Letters: No one voted for the NHS to be privatised

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The Independent Online

As the House of Lords prepares to vote on the NHS and Social Care Bill, it is clear that medical professionals and the British people – despite a protracted listening exercise by the Government – still do not support existing plans for the NHS.

Despite the Prime Minister’s claims to the contrary, it is public fact that every single Royal College representing nurses, GPs and midwives maintain serious concerns about the Bill. The official policy of the British Medical Association is that the Bill be withdrawn.

It is also clear – as the Prime Minister is acutely aware – that the British people do not support the privatisation of the NHS; no one ever voted for it, so this Bill has no democratic mandate whatsoever.

A serious number of Liberal Democrat, Labour and crossbench peers want to amend the Bill to remove the concerns so many significant bodies and individuals hold. We, the undersigned, call for the suspension of or significant amendment of the Bill so it can be supported by most of the medical profession and the British people, who pay for, support and service our great NHS.

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.

Carl Barat; Dr David Bareford, Consultant Haematologist; Dr Adriana Basara; Dr Morris Bernadt, Consultant psychiatrist; Dr Robert Boon, Paediatric Consultant; Dr David Bramble, Consultant Psychiatrist; Russell Brand; Dr Raymond S Brown, Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Chris Burns-Cox; Dr Penny Campling, Senior Consultant psychiatrist; Julie Christie; Imti Choonara, Professor in Child Health, University of Nottingham; Dr R S Delamon, Consultant Neurologist; Dr Nicola Dowling; Dr Peter Draper; Dr Peter Ehrhardt, Consultant Paediatrician; Professor Robert Elkeles; Dr Mary Eminson, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; Professor John Feehally, Consultant Nephrologist; Dr Peter Fisher, President, NHS Consultants’ Association; Professor Peter Fleming; Dr Jane Flint, Consultant Cardiologist; Dr Amy Ford; Dr Jane Foster; Sadie Frost; Dr Katy Gardner; Dr Nadja van Ginneken; Geoff Gill, Professor of International Medicine, University of Liverpool; Dr M G Harrington; Dr Sebastian Hendricks, Consultant Audiovestibular Physician and Paediatrician; Dr Robert Higgo, Consultant psychiatrist; Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, Consultant Respiratory Physician; Professor William L Irving, Honorary Consultant in Virology; Dr Hilary Klonin, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist; Dr Alan Lee; Dr Geoffrey Lewis, Consultant Physician; Dr Karen Leyden, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care; Ken Loach; Caroline Lucas MP; Dr Sebastian Kraemer, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; Dr C W McGrother; Dr Ruth MacInerney, Consultant Physician; Dr A F Macklon, Consultant Physician; David Morrissey; Dr Pat Munday; Consultant Genitourinary Physician; Dr Julia Nelki, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr David Paintin; Francesco Pezzella, Professor of Tumour Pathology; Dr Lucy Pollock, Consultant geriatrician; Dr John Puntis; Dr I F Pye, Consultant Neurologist; Tony Robinson; Dr Mary Rogerson, Consultant in Renal Medicine; Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, Senior Lecturer in Public Health, University of Liverpool; Will Self; Dr Brian Silk; Alan Smyth, Professor of Child Health, University of Nottingham; Dr Nigel Speight, Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Rachel Tattersall, Consultant Rheumatologist; Dr Norman Traub; Dr Gill Turner, Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Rick Turnock, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon; Dr Lance Turtle; Mark Wansbrough-Jones, Consultant Physician; Professor Cathy Warwick, General Secretary, Royal College of Midwives; Dr Tony Waterston, Consultant Paediatrician; Dr Diana Wellesley; Dame Vivienne Westwood; Dr Angela Wilson; Dr Patrick Zentler-Munro; Dr Pam Zinkin

Death by drone is ruled illegal

There is far more to the issue of the legality of using armed drones than either Andreas Whittam Smith (“Death by drone”, 6 October) or your letter-writers (7 October) realise.

US lawyer Professor Mary O’Connell spelt it out clearly when she testified to Congress last year. Terrorism is a criminal activity and should therefore be dealt with by law-enforcement authorities, not the military. Drones are battlefield weapons. As such, they can only be used in a genuine combat zone and by military operators. It is, regardless of what Washington says, illegal for the CIA to operate them.

And as Afghanistan is the only country where the US is fighting a war (the “war on terror” being a false concept, although useful if you want to give yourself carte blanche to use force wherever you choose), the only place where it is lawful today for the US to intentionally target and kill persons is in Afghanistan.

But, as terrorists are criminals, the proper action is to arrest and prosecute them. Targeting and assassinating a person, whatever you think them guilty of, is illegal, and the growing use of drones to do this, even disregarding the |civilians who also die, is to perpetuate the terror. Anyone who uses drones in this way becomes a terrorist.

Rather than allow our governments to escalate the use of drones, we should be calling for a convention banning their use.

Lesley Docksey

Buckland Newton, Dorset

If the Russians were behind the assassination of the three Chechens in Istanbul (report, 8 October), they missed a trick. They should have followed the lead of United States of America and used an unmanned drone. That way they could have killed 30 or 40 innocent civilians as well as the target and gone on television and boasted about it.

B Emmerson

Selby, North Yorkshire

Blame US banks for debt crisis

The amount of invective being heaped on European countries in debt is worrying. It is true that the euro project was flawed from the start but the root of the crisis lies in America. US banks created the debt time-bombs, the securities and derivatives sold across Europe.

In 2008, when banks began to implode under their own debts, we the public bailed them out. In the US, Britain and Europe, governments of every stripe had to borrow money to bail them out.

Now, owing to the recession, it is harder to service those borrowings and the duplicitous credit-rating agencies castigate our governments for doing what was demanded of them by the banks in 2008. (It should also be remembered that there are major legal moves being made against the banks claiming massive fraud in selling investments they knew to be worthless).

Blaming this country or that or castigating the EU is utterly wrong-headed and dangerous. This remains the crisis of fraudulent private banking debts being taken on to the public books.

Philip Duval


Splendid to know that Angela Merkel has, at last, accepted the need to be willing to recapitalise European banks. But will she take the next step, and recognise that coming to the aid of banks is not the same as coming to the aid of bankers, above all those who have led their companies and countries to the brink of disaster and, in some cases, beyond?

David Connor Ferris

Mae Hiya, Chiangmai, Thailand

Rugby debacle must be tackled

When recruitment and retention of players at rugby union grassroots clubs is going through a very difficult time, the performance of the England team, on and off the field, is a huge disappointment.

As role models for the game they should enter a very long period of reflection. The surge the game needed has been set back for a long time because of headlines and the style in which England played.

The chaos on and off the field mirrors the way the RFU has performed and if the players were to adopt the same attitude as the game’s administrators, the World Cup 2011 has been a roaring success.

Andrew Perry

Morecambe, Lancashire

What about Scotland’s self-exiles?

It is interesting that Alex Salmond is considering extending the franchise for a referendum on Scottish independence to 16-year-olds (report, 10 October) on the basis, according to his spokesman, that “all sections of of Scottish society will come together to choose Scotland’s future”.

Does Mr Salmond intend to extend the same right to a vote in a referendum to people born in Scotland who now live in other parts of the UK and whose political and social rights could be affected by Scottish secession in ways which he hasn’t even begun to spell out?

Andrew Colquhoun

Hastings, Sussex

Chew on this

Some BBC staff say they cannot leave London for Salford because they are vegetarians (report, 7 October). The vegetarian movement began in Salford in 1809. The Vegetarian Society is based in Altrincham. Manchester has a vegan supermarket and several vegetarian restaurants and cafes.

We even have one owned and run by a celebrity chef. I am not sure that even the capital can boast such vegetarian credentials. Maybe the whingers should stay where they are.

Ruth Molloy


Ssst! Over here

On tour with the RSC in 1967, I encountered the most sophisticated prompt system I know (Tom Sutcliffe, 7 October). At the Finnish National theatre, an overhead prompt could be relayed to different areas of the stage. But in England the art of prompting has long been neglected.

Clive Swift

London NW8

Sit back and relax

Brace position or otherwise (letter, 8 October), I just make a point of sitting right at the back. Aeroplanes rarely reverse into mountains.

Jim Conry