The ARM supported a motion condemning the introduction of walk-in centres without piloting and evaluation as 'media friendly' but 'counter-productive to the proper deployment of NHS resources'. Dr Tony Lavelle said the centres encouraged 'a generation of supermarket shufflers' to think of medical care in the same way as they thought of shopping.
Doctors also demanded a freeze on further expansion of NHS Direct until it was clinically evaluated.
The meeting passed a motion demanding that the government 'cease the practice of hurtling from primary care group to primary care trust status', but threw out a recommendation that doctors should not become involved in PCTs set up without majority GP support. Dr Jonathan Regler said GPs should not 'lend legitimacy' to such PCTs. But other GPs argued they would have no influence if they were not involved.
Doctors passed the now traditional motion calling for pay parity with 'comparable professionals' to ease recruitment and retention problems. But a second motion calling for the BMA to promote private practice to 'reduce doctors' dependence on the NHS, was lost. Dr Ian Bogle said 'the answer to low pay in the NHS is to try and bolster it'.
Junior doctors pushed through a motion condemning the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for proposing a postspecialist training specialist grade, and, against the advice of Dr Bogle and other leading figures, calling for the resignation of RCOG president Robert Shaw. Dr Fiona Kew described the plans as a 'charter for abuse' and said there should be more consultant posts for those trainees who find themselves with no jobs to go to.