Doctors form political party to challenge Health Act reforms

Prime minister David Cameron and health secretary Jeremy Hunt will face a challenge at the next general election from candidates put forward by a political party founded today to protect the NHS.

Dr Louise Irvine helps launch the National Health Action party (photo: Marina Soteriou)
Dr Louise Irvine helps launch the National Health Action party (photo: Marina Soteriou)

Candidates from the National Health Action Party, set up by healthcare professionals opposed to the Health Act reforms, will also stand against chancellor George Osborne, schools and cabinet office minister David Laws and former health secretary Andrew Lansley.

The party will field candidates in up to 50 general election constituencies in total across England, and will contest a selection of local council seats. It will not stand against any candidate who 'shares our goals' for the NHS.

Lewisham GP and prominent anti-Health Act campaigner Dr Louise Irvine is among the founders of the new political party. She told GP that the founders of the party felt a political challenge to the government was necessary because it seemed 'impervious' to opinions expressed by the public, professionals and patients about NHS reform.

'We are taking the fight to them – to where it hurts. They care about losing seats. We feel there should be political consequences for behaving how they did. They said they weren’t going to do anything to the NHS in the election, they covered it up and they went ahead. There need to be consequences. We don’t know if we will achieve anything, but it is worth trying.

'We have no big donors, membership is open to everyone. We need activists and people to donate – we will build from the bottom up.'

The party says all three main parties have 'betrayed the public’s trust over the NHS'. A statement released by the party ahead of its launch said: 'A&E units are being closed or downgraded, some hospitals are on the brink of collapse, services are being broken up and contracts given to profit-making corporations.

'Thousands of NHS jobs will be wiped out by 2015. This top-down reorganisation is undermining the founding principles of the NHS – a defining element of our nation’s shared values for generations rightly celebrated at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

'But current market-driven health policies are destroying the NHS and placing it at risk. Our party can be trusted to look after the NHS and value its founding principles. Our elected members will fight to restore the NHS as the high quality, comprehensive and equitable national health service that is known and loved by all.'

Dr Irvine said candidates fielded by the National Health Action Party would not necessarily be doctors.

'We want local candidates with good local knowledge. We'd be happy for doctors to stand, or other health workers. But it could be other ordinary citizens.'

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