If the plans to dismantle our NHS are serious, doctors will fight against politicians

Andy Burnham has pledged to reverse the coalition's NHS reforms, but we need an alternative. Could it be the National Health Action?

Share
Related Topics

Labour must hope we have short memories. Andy Burnham has pledged to reverse the coalition's NHS reforms, concerned the government is “breaking down and privatising” our healthcare. His plans have already been described as an effective re-nationalisation. As a doctor I'm thrilled – any halt to the poorly conceived and hurriedly implemented Health and Social Care Bill has got to be good news.

But the Shadow Health Secretary may have forgotten his party's history. Throughout the noughties Labour expanded PFI (public finance initiatives) into healthcare. These public-private partnerships built NHS infrastructure worth £11bn, but they'll cost the public £79bn in repayments. This dwarves the £20bn savings asked for by the current government. The patchwork privatisation of the NHS is New Labour's legacy - the coalition are just finishing what they started.

I can't trust Labour with the NHS. Andy Burnham may have the best of intentions, but politicians' pledges don't always hold true. They may position themselves as the alternative to the coalition, but Labour's heritage doesn't give me confidence in their ability to maintain the NHS without help.

A rumour is circulating amongst doctors: a new, independent political party, set to campaign against all forms of NHS privatisation. Where medical professionals can fight eye-to-eye against politicians hoping to dismantle our NHS. The National Health Action (NHA) party will seek to challenge politicians where it matters - their parliamentary seat.

Dr Clive Peedell, founder of the NHA party, will act as co-chairman with Dr Richard Taylor. A physician and former MP, Dr Taylor has experience of fighting for what he believes in. In 2001, when his local A&E was threatened with closure, Dr Taylor stood as an independent candidate against the landslide New Labour incumbent. He won, with a majority of 18,000. Together the two doctors hope to field up to fifty candidates in the next election, cherry-picking key seats to attain representation in the House of Commons.

The NHA party could be a tremendous force for good. Today's government was meant to be the fairest, most moderate yet, thanks to Lib Dem checks on Conservative power. But a coalition where the smaller party abandon their principles and toe a line of uncompromising dogma is no true partnership.

With enough seats in 2015, the NHA party could form a coalition with either of the big parties. They could create absolute guarantees on core health principles to ensure the quality and security of our NHS for the next parliament. No more worthless pledges.

And even without executive power, having doctors in the Commons could allow the NHS to have true representation in parliament. The former Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport has few credentials to justify his position as tacit head of the country's health service. Giving doctors a political platform could redress this imbalance.

Many doctors don't like to get involved in politics. It interferes in treatment, meddles with budgets, and has the potential to create inequality across healthcare that no medicine can remedy. So when physicians finally take up arms, it is because they feel there is no other choice. Opposition has been resolute from the first introduction of the NHS reforms. But pleas from the BMA and Royal Colleges were disregarded, because they could be.

Without a true challenge on the floor of the Commons, the government only have to listen to themselves. Come the next election, doctors might give them something to hear.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
New rules mean individuals will no longer be allowed to register other people in their household  

A political voice that really needs to be heard

Rebecca Armstrong
If Miliband is PM, it is expected that Cameron will stand down as party leader quickly  

Election 2015: The Ed Miliband I worked with in Downing Street

Nick Rowley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living