The National Health Action party will field a candidate in the Eastleigh by-election following the disgrace and resignation of leading Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne.
Given the short notice of the election date, the NHA, which has been formed in response to the coalition government’s controversial reforms and drastic cutbacks to the NHS, will select its candidate tomorrow (February 8).
The election comes in the immediate aftermath of the Francis Report, which gives an indication of the threat to high quality health care when management and professionals in the NHS are distracted from patient care. This is a situation that will be replicated time and again by the relentless government pressure for a massive £20 billion of cost savings and the implementation of its unpopular and divisive Health and Social Care Act.
It comes hot on the heels of the government decision to implement proposals from a Special Administrator for massive NHS cutbacks in South East London, including the closure of vital services at Lewisham Hospital, using the dictatorial powers of the “Unsustainable Provider Regime” to ride roughshod over the protests of tens of thousands of local residents and health professionals. A £300m war chest has been put aside by the NHS regulator Monitor to finance similar interventions as up to 60 other trusts run into financial crisis around the country.
The NHA party candidacy will also be a first electoral test for the government’s Health and Social Care Act, which was hatched up by the Conservatives, but driven through last April only with support from Liberal Democrats like Chris Huhne in the Commons and decisively in the Lords.
Party co-chair Clive Peedell, a cancer specialist from Teesside, said:
“We believe the Eastleigh by-election offers a huge opportunity to radically alter the nature of our broken political system. For too long the three main political parties have betrayed the trust of the UK public in a tide of political sleaze and dishonesty.
“The LibDems in particular have betrayed their grassroots supporters by supporting a Conservative-led coalition that is undermining and privatising our public services with no democratic mandate, and pushing forward an austerity package that will cause long-term damage to our country.”
Fellow co-chair Richard Taylor, who twice successfully contested the Wyre Forest constituency and served as an Independent MP on the basis of the popular local concern at the rundown of Kidderminster Hospital, said:
“Our new party has been formed by frontline healthcare professionals to fight back against political sleaze and defend the NHS and public services from increasing commercialisation and privatisation, and to campaign for a fairer, healthier and more just society.
“We are open to all who share our concerns, and we will call on the people of Eastleigh to support us and take a united stand against a political class that has put its own narrow self- interests before the ordinary citizens of this country.”
The National Health Action party was launched last November.
Further details are available from the website www.nationalhealthaction.org.uk