The new British Medical Association chairman has called for a 'fresh start' with prime minister Gordon Brown.

Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'With a new leader of the country and a new leader of the BMA, this is a chance for a fresh start.

'Gordon Brown must fully engage with all health professionals if he is serious about his commitment to the principles and values of the NHS.'

Dr Meldrum's immediate focus was sorting out the junior doctor job crisis, he added. Other priorities included the staff and associate specialist grade contract and the threat to self-regulation for doctors.

Managers called on doctors to give Dr Meldrum 'space' to reinvigorate medical engagement with reforms.

NHS Confederation chief executive Dr Gill Morgan said there was a need for 'real leadership' in the medical profession.

'We must ensure doctors feel engaged in planning and implementing the changes needed to deliver a first-rate health system. [Dr Meldrum] will need the support of his members and the space to be an effective chair,' she said.

NHS Alliance chair Michael Dixon said: 'The major challenge now is to get clinicians on board and Hamish will be good at that role.'

NHS Employers director Steve Barnett said: 'Under [Dr Meldrum's] leadership, we have improved primary care services for patients through the GMS contract.'

The East Yorkshire GP was elected chairman of the BMA council last week. He is well known to NHS negotiators and the Department of Health from his long involvement with the BMA's GPs committee, which he joined as a negotiator in 1997 and chaired from 2004. He helped negotiate the GP contract.