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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Putting candidates on the spot over ​the​ NHS as it tops the agenda in Rochester and Strood By-Election

​​The National Health Action Party is challenging candidates in the Rochester & Strood by-election to come clean on their health policies. As the NHS ​overtakes immigration as the issue that concerns most voters ​ locally, the NHA Party's prospective parliamentary candidate in neighbouring Maidstone and the Weald, Dr Paul Hobday, has issued a set of questions to ​the 5 main candidates in Rochester & Strood.

The retired GP who's challenging Tory sports minister Helen Grant said:​ ​"​We are keen that the electorate fully understands what is happening to the NHS and what the Health and Social Care Act , passed by the Coalition Government, actually means. The Conservative and LibDem candidates talk as though the current state of the local NHS is nothing to do with them, despite the Coalition embedding corporate commercialisation and competition
​in the NHS by this Act.​"​

The three main political parties are pro-market and commercialis​ation, as is UKIP. This consensus has limited the debate about privati​sation and rarely is it mentioned how wasteful the market is with estimates of its cost being at minimum £5 billion a year (and up to £10 billion from some academics). When Simon Stevens’ recent report highlighted the “funding gap” this elephant in the room was not offered as the solution it clearly could be.

"​With this in mind we are asking the 5 main candidates a series of policy questions to pin them down, and expose their true plans. "​These are:​

  • Would you vote to repeal in full the Health and Social Care Act ?
  • Do you support : (a) the reversal of the privatisation of the NHS ? (b) an end to contracting out services to private companies ? (c) the return of services into public hands ?
  • Do you agree the NHS market should be scrapped ?
  • Do you agree NHS funding should be increased by a minimum of 4% per annum and brought into line with other G7 countries ?
  • Will you call for a halt to cuts and closures of hospitals , A+E departments, maternity and other local services until suitable and accessible
  • alternatives are in place ? Decisions must be evidence-based and democratically supported by local clinicians and local people
  • Will you oppose further PFI deals and agree to renegotiate existing PFIs on the basis of good value for the taxpayer ?
  • Do you oppose any new charges for patients such as for GP visits and hospital stays ?
  • Will you call for an exemption of the NHS from TTIP ?
  • Do you support NHS strikers calling for the recommended 1% pay rise for NHS staff ?
  • Do you agree that prescription charges should be scrapped ?

The NHAP say they also have some additional questions for the UKIP candidate Mark Reckless :

​"​Will you apologise to voters and to the Medway Hospitals NHS Trust for misleading information in your campaign leaflets which suggest the NHS back UKIP ?
​"Can you ​say​ which of these statements ​you agree with ?

  • Nigel Farage (October 2014) would like big businessmen to run the NHS and thinks it’s ridiculous to protect the NHS from cuts.
  • Paul Nuttall (deputy Chairman) has called for “more free market in the NHS” and congratulated the Coalition for “bringing a whiff of privati​s​ation into the beleaguered NHS”
  • Candidates Samuel Fletcher and Bradley Monk both would like the NHS scrapped , with the former requiring everyone to take out private health insurance.
  • Health Spokesperson Louise Bours wants to exempt the NHS from TTIP but Trade Spokesman William Dartmouth supports the inclusion of the NHS in TTIP.
  • ​"​Mark Reckless supported the H​ealth & Social Care Act, which is a privati​​sation-enabling Act, at every stage. Now he has swung 180 degrees and is to vote (if re-elected) for the Efford private members’ Bill which will ​rein in privatisation.

​National Health Action Party Spokesman said: "Mr Reckless has also signed the People’s NHS pledge to “keep the NHS out of TTIP” which is also a turnaround and strange for someone belonging ​a party ​prioritising business and free trade. UKIP claim to be separate from the old Westminster cynical “establishment” and a breath of fresh air but this proves they are no better than the rest with political opportunism. UKIP’s NHS policy is a mess as is clear from the statements quoted above."