Exclusive:

Senior doctors revolt against health reforms

60 leading clinicians write to The Independent urging Lords to block passage of 'undemocratic' NHS Bill

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 The Independent, increases the pressure on Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, who faces widespread opposition in the House of Lords to the planned overhaul.

Signatories include consultants, surgeons, psychiatrists and paediatricians, as well as midwives and family doctors. They have joined forces with public figures including the actors Julie Christie and David Morrissey, the comedian Russell Brand and the 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 House of Lords where it is due to face concerted opposition, with so many peers requesting to speak that business managers have been forced to set aside another day for the debate.

More than 90 members have applied to speak in the Second Reading debate. Attempts will be made to block the Bill or to delay it by referring key parts to a select committee.

Ministers are expected to offer one concession – an amendment designed to spell out more clearly that the Health Secretary has ultimate legal responsibility for the NHS. But there is growing anxiety within the Government that critics could muster enough support to delay the measure.

David Cameron was forced to announce a halt to the Bill's progress in April in the face of widespread hostility among health professionals, as well as Liberal Democrat activists. Following a six-week "listening exercise", he announced changes to the legislation, including involving clinicians in handling budgets and a retreat from plans to promote competition.

But the moves have failed to appease many of the Bill's critics, with the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association still strongly opposed to it. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges wrote to peers yesterday arguing that too much emphasis is being placed on competition and choice at the expense of patient care.

One of the signatories of the letter to The Independent, Peter Fisher, the president of the NHS Consultants' Association, said: "Our main concern is that it opens the health service to much greater private involvement." He added: "It could become a collection of individual organisations – some NHS, some private, some voluntary – competing with each other. The essence of medicine is co-operation, not competition."

Key signatories behind the letter

Nigel Speight

The consultant paediatrician from Durham has forecast the "destruction of the NHS" if the reforms are pushed through, claiming that doctors and hospitals could soon be forced to compete in a "patients' marketplace".



Dr Alex Scott-Samuel

A lecturer in public health at the University of Liverpool, he has warned the Bill would do "irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients and to society as a whole" and points out that it is highly unusual for NHS staff to speak out publicly in this way.



John Puntis

The consultant paediatrician from Leeds claims the Bill is "propelling us towards a US-style market economy in health, with all the inefficiency, waste and poorer outcomes that are well-known".



Russell Brand

The comedian has criticised US healthcare, remarking: "Instead of letting people die in the street we have free healthcare."

House of Lords: obstacles to reform

Lord Rea

The Labour peer Lord Rea, a former junior hospital doctor, GP and lecturer at St Thomas' Hospital Medical School, has tabled a motion to stop the Bill going any further in the Lords.



Lord Owen

The crossbencher Lord Owen, a former hospital doctor and a health minister from 1974 to 1976, is leading moves for key clauses to be considered by a select committee, thereby halting the Bill's overall progress.



Baroness Williams

The former Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, Baroness Williams of Crosby, has called for further concessions, raising particular concerns that Bill does not enshrine in law the Health Secretary's responsibility for the NHS.



Lord Hutton

The Labour peer Lord Hutton of Furness was a health minister in the Blair government for seven years. He is likely to reject government claims the measures are a logical extension of the health reforms begun by Tony Blair.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

    £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'