Monday, 19 May 2014

The National Health Action Party, by Deborah Harrington

The National Health Action Party was launched 18 months ago by doctors and health workers seriously concerned at the impact of the government’s massive top down NHS reorganisation.

This has wasted billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. It has also led to the closure of A&E departments and local hospitals, massive understaffing of doctors and nurses, harmful rationing of care and the NHS 111 shambles.

One of the co-founders is the former Independent MP and physician Dr Richard Taylor, who won at two general elections campaigning against the closure of his local hospital at Kidderminster.

The other is cancer specialist Clive Peedell, who has announced he will be challenging David Cameron in Witney in 2015.

Their vision is to create a party which will put the health of the nation back at the heart of the nation and the heart of our national politics.

We believe that the NHS means more than a system of healthcare. Its creation as a social institution 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 where the dictates of commerce were held in check.

Those values are under attack from increasing commercialisation and the Coalition’s Health & Social Care Act (2012), which removed the duty of government to provide a health care service for all.

There is clear evidence that the privatisation of the NHS is accelerating under this government.

On just one day recently, £1.2bn of contracts were put out to tender. Since last April 70% of all contracts put out to tender have gone to non NHS commercial companies.

We are standing a full slate of candidates in London in the Euro elections.

Our principal candidates are healthcare professionals who have been involved in the fight to save our services.

Our focus is on the NHS, which faces having the privatisation irretrievably locked in by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and US.

We are calling for the NHS to be exempted from this deal.

Our policies are founded on the relationship between health and all other aspects of our national economy. 

Health care provision is fundamental to addressing issues of housing, education, poverty, food standards and employment.

Dr Louise Irvine is standing in London as one of our candidates for the European election. Dr Irvine is Chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and led a successful court action against Jeremy Hunt in both the High and Appeal Court in defence of her hospital. She has this to say about the importance of your vote:

“Our key challenge in defending the NHS is that most people don’t know what is happening to it – it is being privatised and starved of funds. They have been kept deliberately in the dark. So anything which helps get the word out and gains much needed attention on the issue is worth doing.

Winning a Euro seat on a single NHS issue would have a huge impact. It would show people were waking up to what was happening and were angry. It would put the NHS on the political agenda. A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 people think the NHS is the most important political issue yet this is not reflected in media coverage.”

We are also standing a small number of candidates at local council level, in Cheltenham (St Paul’s ward), Rotherham (Sitwell ward), Plymouth (Plympton St Mary ward), Liverpool (Anfield & Wavertree wards), Enfield (Town ward) and Fulham (Munster ward).

Vote for the NHS, or lose the NHS. The choice really is that clear.

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