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Thursday, 12 March 2015

NHA party launch election campaign in Westminster

The National Health Action Party launched its general election campaign today with a call to the public to vote not just for the NHS but for the sort of society they want to live in. Founded less than three years ago, the Party brings together doctors, nurses, paramedics, NHS staff and ordinary members of the public who are fighting the Coalition government's disastrous NHS "reforms" and are determined to change the direction of travel of the NHS: away from privatisation and under-funding and back to the fair and equitable public institution that consistently tops the list of things that make us feel proud to be British.

The NHA Party will be fielding 13 candidates at the general election which, NHA co-founder Dr Clive Peedell says is “not just about the NHS but the kind of society we want to live in.” With the NHS at the top of the political agenda, and with every party now clamouring to portray themselves as the NHS's new best friend, the National Health Action Party wants electors to know just how far that is from the truth. The 13 candidates are standing primarily against prominent Coalition MPs and ministers; two are challenging sitting Labour MPs and the NHA has candidates in the politically-charged constituency of Stafford and in the 5th most marginal seat in the country, Oxford West & Abingdon.

NHA Party candidates gathered at Westminster today accompanied by a campaign “ambulance” that will be travelling around the country. First stop will be South West Surrey, where Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is facing GP Dr Louise Irvine – this time at the ballot box, after losing spectacularly to her in the courts over his plans to downgrade facilities at Lewisham Hospital. Co-founder of the Party Dr Richard Taylor, already twice elected as an MP, will again stand under the banner of Independent Community & Health Concern, which is affiliated to the NHA Party.

Dr Peedell, a cancer specialist and member of the BMA Council, who is running against David Cameron in Witney, said: "We have a small number of high-quality candidates, committed, passionate and knowledgeable about the NHS. We and they are fighting to give the NHS a voice in Parliament that is free from party political point-scoring and misguided assumptions about what we can and can't afford. Our focus is on what’s best for people, not politicians or political parties. The current spectacle of political parties trying to outbid each other with last-minute NHS bribes to voters is unedifying and I'm sure the public won't fall for it.

“But our fight goes much broader than that. It's what Michael Sheen has been so eloquently talking about over recent days - and it's why his comments have hit such a public nerve. Our bigger fight is about the sort of society we want to live in. ‎The way a society delivers its healthcare reflects the values and nature of that society and the people who live in it. The way our political leaders are behaving, fawning to the nasty voices in our society, is moving us towards a society based on fear and self-interest. We don't believe the majority of people want this sort of society. They want a society based on fairness, equality of opportunity and compassion.

“This can’t be achieved until the austerity agenda pursued by this government is abandoned. Austerity is a recipe for widening wealth and health inequality and is leading to the fracturing of our society. We must fight to reverse this destructive trend which disproportionately punishes the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Of course we are realistic about our chances and to get even one MP poses a monumental challenge. But if we did succeed in getting one or two MPs, it would be a huge victory for people power and it would send a crucially important message about the future direction of our NHS, our society and our country. “

Dr Richard Taylor said: ​"I'm living proof that people are willing to put health first in an election. There's been much childish debate about 'weaponising' the NHS. ‎The only weapon anyone should be talking about is the ballot box. That's the ultimate weapon for ordinary people. They must use the ballot box to punish the government and send a strong message to all parties that they've had enough of our NHS being run down and sold off. The prospect of a hung Parliament could put MPs who are independent of the main parties in a very powerful position whoever forms the next government."