A group of healthcare professionals is today launching a new political party dedicated to opposing the government’s reforms of the NHS.
The National Health Action party is aiming to put up 50 candidates at the next general election to campaign against the coalition’s Health and Social Care Act.
The party’s members say the Act - which was pushed through Parliament by the coalition despite fierce opposition from NHS professionals, patient groups, unions and Labour - will allow the NHS in England to be “broken up and sold off”.
It is co-led by Richard Taylor, a former Kidderminster hospital consultant who was MP for Wyre Forest from 2001 to 2010, and Clive Peedell, a consultant clinical oncologist and co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association.
Dr Taylor caused an upset in 2001 by campaigning against the closure of the accident and emergency department at Kidderminster General Hospital.
His new party is strongly critical of the coalition’s handling of the NHS and hopes Labour will repeal the Act if it wins the 2015 election. It may not help Ed Miliband, however, as an NHS-focused party is likely to appeal to natural Labour voters.
The National Health Action party, whose members will gather in Westminster today with stethoscopes and wearing scrubs and white coats, says that the Act will make the NHS “more expensive, wasteful and unequal”.
“Quite apart from the direct effects on healthcare provision, the destruction of the NHS also marks the violation of important social values,” the party says on its website.
“The NHS was more than just a structure for the delivery of healthcare. It was also a social institution that reflected national solidarity, expressed the values of equity and universalism, and institutionalised the duty of government to care for all in society.
“The NHS marked out a space in society where the dictates of commerce and the market were held in check so as to give expression to socially directed goals, for individuals and society as a whole. Thus the NHS became the glue that holds together the social fabric of our nation.
“As the NHS is under so much threat, we believe that a new political party is needed to defend the NHS and its values, and we have therefore set up the National Health Action party.”