NHS doctors plan election challenge
A group of NHS doctors plan to field candidates against high-profile coalition MPs at the next general election in protest at controversial Government health reforms.
In a letter to the Independent on Sunday, a group of 240, including 30 professors, said the shake-up "fundamentally undermines the founding principles" of the health service.
"It is our view that coalition MPs and peers have placed the political survival of the coalition Government above professional opinion, patient safety and the will of the citizens of this country," they wrote.
"We are shocked by the failure of the democratic process and the facilitating role played by the Liberal Democrats in the passage of this Bill. We have therefore decided to form a coalition of healthcare professionals to take on coalition MPs at the next general election, on the non-party, independent ticket of defending the NHS."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, the architect of the changes, are expected to be among the politicians targeted by the initiative at the election, due in 2015.
The Health and Social Care Bill faces a fresh hurdle in its stormy parliamentary passage on Monday when peers are likely to vote on whether to delay it pending possible publication of a confidential risk assessment drawn up by civil servants.
A Department of Health appeal against an order by the Information Commissioner to publish the "transition risk register" was thrown out by a tribunal last week.
Ministers have said they will not decide whether to launch a further appeal until they have seen the full judgment from the Information Rights Tribunal.
But former doctor and SDP leader Lord Owen put down a motion which would delay the third reading until after the Government had responded to the full judgment or until "the last practical opportunity" for agreeing the Bill before the end of the parliamentary session in early May.
The letter was organised by Dr Clive Peedell, a cancer specialist and co-chair of the NHS Consultants' Association, who told the newspaper he had originally hoped to get just 50 names. They would field "as many candidates as possible" at the election, he said, with other supporters acting in administrative and fundraising roles.