Preparing for a Bill

Baroness Murphy

Like other blogging peers I’ve been amazed and delighted by the response of you blog-watchers. It’s certainly an incentive to carry on. A very busy couple of days for me. Yesterday was my Council meeting at St George’s University of London. I’ve been Chair of Council, the governing body of this college of the University of London, for nearly two years, at a time of great change. We are a small medical school and health sciences university over 250 years old and rightly proud of our heritage and our reputation for turning out great doctors and other health professionals. But we face some dilemmas about our future and will be making some key decisions over the next few months to ensure we can meet the stiff competition that faces the higher education sector. Our new Principal Professor Peter Kopelman starts on 1st April and has a mammoth task ahead of him to steer us all through the various options. But St George’s has made some brave decisions before and I am confidant that it will again.

Today back to the business of the Health and Social Care bill. I am having a series of meetings with key people with expert knowledge of the likely impact of the Bill on health and social care services and the professions. Yesterday I had a very useful meeting with Anna Walker, the Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission.

Today I am seeing Sue Marks from the British Medical Association , then attending a peers’ meeting with Lord Darzi about the Bill. I am a member of the BMA, my medical trade union, and have been for 40 years. I find however that I nearly always disagree with its stance on political issues (except the smoking ban, which it campaigned for). I have been near to resignation any number of times but then I enjoy their weekly Journal, the BMJ, and think I can only resign once so I’d better save it for a really special occasion! I think they are misguided in their response to Lord Darzi’s plans for the NHS. I think they are wrong about traditional General Practice being the only good form of primary care and especially wrong about how primary care works in inner city areas. But I am very willing to listen to their point of view on the fitness to practice measure and regulation of doctors which I expect they will not like.

As a doctor who became an NHS manager however I am absolutely with the Government on their plans for modernising the GMC and its processes. Nevertheless I want to hear their arguments in detail; I could have missed something. Back to the monthly Centre of the Cell meeting this morning. This project neatly ties in my interests in health and bioscience education and my wider interests in healthcare and my work in the Lords. Our web-site is proving very popular; we’ve reached 75 different countries. Anyone who wants to see if they can stop a flu epidemic should play our game on the website—it’s frighteningly easy to kill off the whole of Tower Hamlets by mistake.

5 comments for “Preparing for a Bill

  1. Lords - Independent and Impartial ??
    19/03/2008 at 3:09 pm

    Baroness Murphy,

    Perhaps you could share with us the procedures and processes for dealing with other ‘ethics committees’ and organisations such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. And how the Lords come to decide on topics such as so-called ‘chimaera’ technology, stem-cell research and so forth.

    Gordon Brown was asked in the other place today about ‘whipping’ in the Lords [which to me somewhat defeats the object…] on such issues, and whether there would a ‘free vote’ on related matters.

    For example, although Nadine Dorries MP was recently unsuccessful in amending abortion legislation, there is some concern about a trend to reduce abortion rights in some areas. Cameron appears to have some sympathy with this – would the Lords row behind him on this, or see it is a thin end of the wedge to undermine the pro-choice consensus?

    You are clearly much closer to the detail on all this, so perhaps an insight into the thought processes and procedures might be useful.

  2. 19/03/2008 at 8:53 pm

    That Game is hard!!!!

  3. St Georges Student
    19/03/2008 at 8:59 pm

    Dear Baroness Murphy,

    Firstly I think that this it is really good idea that you are engaging the students of St Georges through this blog.
    As I am sure you are aware there is a lot of strong feeling about the merger from the students.
    I feel some students especially the Rugby teams are opposed to the merger for purely patriotic reasons rather than looking clearly at the reality of the situation.
    For courses especially Biomed of which I am a student a multifacility university would offer a great leap forward in terms of course design teaching and resources.
    At this point more information is essential so people can make an informed decision. A referendum from the students and teachers should also be considered as it is their future which is most at stake.

    Yours Sincerely,

    St Georges Student

  4. 20/03/2008 at 12:45 pm

    perhaps saint george’s also needs a blog. why not introduce the outside world, alumni and so on into the conversation about its future?

Comments are closed.