People Power: the radiologist

Who are you?
Dr Jacky Davis, consultant radiologist, member of the British Medical Association (BMA) Council, founder member of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign.

What's the problem?
The government is changing the fundamental nature of the National Health Service from a publicly funded and delivered service to one that is increasingly delivered by the commercial sector. This has been done under the radar, as there was no need for major legislation, and it has never been in any party manifesto.

The rationale for this change is that the commercial sector brings choice and competition, but there is no evidence that a market in health care improves quality or drives down cost. What's more, the public cares who delivers NHS services - people feel that health care is not a suitable area
for profit-driven enterprises and understand that the behaviour of the commercial sector may be to the long-term detriment of patients.

How does it affect you?
As a radiologist, I have seen imaging work given to the private sector that could have been done more cheaply and better by NHS hospitals. On a more general level, we are looking at job cuts in the NHS, while we know that huge sums of money have been wasted on "reorganisation" and the involvement of the private sector.

What are you doing about it?
The BMA believes that the fairest and most cost-effective way to run the NHS is as a publicly funded and publicly delivered service (and all the evidence supports this). As the major political parties are committed to the market model of health care, it will be necessary to inform patients and the public about the dangers of an increasing role for the private sector.

How can we get involved?
Visit, and publicise the campaign. A good place to start might be the scandal of the money wasted on PFI and the market in health care.

This article first appeared in the 28 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter