BMA Scotland called on MSPs to reject plans for direct elections to NHS Boards and instead to support improvements to local public involvement structures as a means to improve public engagement in local decision making.
The calls came in advance of a Scottish Parliament debate on 'democracy in local healthcare'.
Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said:
"It is clear that the current system that NHS Boards are using to consult is not working, the public is not happy about decisions that are being made and they don't feel that their views are being taken into account. Whether or not direct elections are introduced, difficult decisions will need to be made; NHS boards will still have a duty to consult the public on service changes and independent scrutiny will take place.
"Encouraging greater involvement and promoting effective governance are both laudable aims for the Scottish Government. The BMA supports greater public involvement but direct elections are not the answer.
"Better alternatives exist and today's debate should focus on how the Government can strengthen local structures and support NHS Boards to improve their own consultation processes and communicate better with the public rather than introducing expensive elections that divert much needed NHS funding away from patient care."