Celebrities join medics in fight against NHS Bill


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More than 60 leading medical professionals have demanded that the Government's "unpopular and undemocratic" health reforms, which return to Westminster today, be either scrapped or heavily rewritten.

Their call, in a letter to i's sister paper The Independent, increases the pressure on Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary (pictured), who faces widespread opposition in the House of Lords to the planned overhaul.

Signatories include consultants, surgeons, psychiatrists and paediatricians, midwives and GPs. They have joined forces with public figures including the actors Julie Christie and David Morrissey, the comedian Russell Brand and fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood to demand a halt to the reforms. They say that, despite a series of amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, Mr Lansley's plans still do not have the support of the public or the profession.

"It is perfectly clear – as the Prime Minister is acutely aware – that the British public does not support the privatisation of the NHS, and it is a matter of fact that no one ever voted for it, and so this current Bill has no democratic mandate whatsoever," they write.

They call for the "suspension of, or significant amendment of, the Bill in order that it can be supported by a majority of the medical profession and the British public as a whole, who pay for, support and service our great NHS".

The signatories add: "No one is against reform and change, but the NHS is too important and valuable to our society to be transformed forever in this unpopular, undemocratic way."

Their letter comes as the Bill returns to the Lords where it is due to face opposition. Attempts will be made to block the Bill or to delay it by referring key parts to a select committee, and there is growing anxiety within the Government that, given the problems in "whipping" members of the upper house, critics could muster enough support to delay the measure.