National Health Action Party Is Launched

National Health Action Party Is Launched

A new political party dedicated to opposing NHS reforms has launched and vowed to target the seats of high-profile Tories, including David Cameron.

The National Health Action (NHA) party aims to put up 50 candidates at the next general election to campaign against the Health and Social Care Act.

It has set its sights on the constituencies currently held by the Prime Minister, Chancellor George Osborne, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his predecessor Andew Lansley and Education Minister David Laws.

NHA members gathered in Westminster on Thursday for the launch, wearing their stethoscopes, scrubs and white coats.

They claim the Act, which was pushed through Parliament despite intense opposition, will allow the NHS in England to be "broken up and sold off".

Richard Taylor, a former hospital consultant who was also previously an MP, and consultant oncologist and co-chair of the NHS Consultants' Association Clive Peedell, are co-leaders.

Dr Taylor caused an upset in 2001 by campaigning against the closure of the accident and emergency department at Kidderminster General Hospital.

Dr Peedell said at the launch: "David Cameron and Andrew Lansley are the main creators of market-driven health policies which are destroying the NHS.

"David Cameron has full responsibility for pushing through the Health and Social Care Bill this year, ignoring fierce opposition from the public, the medical profession and other NHS workers.

"George Osborne is pressing ahead with incredibly damaging austerity measures, and his Treasury is taking back front-line money from the NHS.

"David Laws is a Liberal Democrat who does not believe in the NHS and wants to see a European-model social insurance scheme for healthcare."

He added: "NHA will send a clear message to the public that the NHS will be increasingly dismantled and handed over to the corporate sector unless we fight to maintain it as a public service, dedicated to the public interest."

He also condemned Mr Hunt, who became Health Secretary in the September reshuffle, claiming he had a "credibility issue" and lacked experience.

Dr Taylor said the party would not stand in a seat where the candidate shares NHA's views on the needs of the NHS and did not rule working with Labour in the future.

Consultant radiologist Jacky Davis, who is a potential candidate, said: "If we don't come out fighting for the NHS, we are going to lose it. It's as simple as that."

The party hopes the Act will be repealed if Labour wins power in 2015, but it may not help Ed Miliband because an NHS-focused party is likely to appeal to his natural voters.

The legislation reached the statute book earlier this year but only after David Cameron stopped it for further consultation because of widespread opposition.

Andrew Lansley, the health secretary who piloted it through the Commons, was later demoted to Leader of the Commons in the September reshuffle.

Under the new laws, some health bodies are to be cut and GP-led groups handed control of much of the budget. More competition is also being introduced into services.

The Department of Health insisted on Thursday that it was "simply not true" to say the NHS is under threat.

"The founding principles of the NHS are not only being protected by this Government, but enhanced and extended," a spokesman said.

"We are taking bureaucracy out of the NHS, putting doctors and nurses in charge at local level through our reforms, and being clearer with the public about what they can expect from their health service through their NHS Mandate we published earlier this week."