Doctors taking on coalition!

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A group of 240 doctors are to stand ‘as many candidates as possible’ against coalition MPs in the next general election.

They want to show their opposition to the government’s Health and Social Care Bill and their absolute disgust at the Liberal Democrats.

The letter was initiated by Dr Clive Peedell, who thought at first that he would only muster 50 others in support. He is a cancer specialist and co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association.

His letter has 240 signatories, and says that the Health and Social Care Bill ‘fundamentally undermines the founding principles’ of the NHS.

The doctors wrote in their letter: ‘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.

‘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.’

Dr Peedell said the group would field ‘as many candidates as possible’ at the general election, with other supporters acting in administrative and fundraising roles.

Peedell’s group will target Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in the 2015 general election.

The Bill will be enacted by then and elements of it are already in place.

The risk assessment on the Bill, drawn up by civil servants and called the Risk Register, is the focus of an attempt by Lord Owen, a former doctor, to delay its progress through the House of Lords.

The government has been instructed to publish it by the Information Commissioner, but continues to refuse to do so.

An appeal against the ruling was made last week and thrown out.

Ministers are delaying a further appeal until they have seen the full judgment from the Information Rights Tribunal.

Owen wants the Lords to delay voting until the Risk Register is published and responded to by the government.

The latest date to pass the Bill is in May.

Owen’s motion will be heard today.

l Members of Oxfordshire Anti Cuts Alliance and Keep Our NHS Public have occupied the headquarters of the Oxfordshire NHS Primary Care Trust.

They are opposed to the NHS and Social Care Bill, which they accuse of ‘dismantling the NHS’.

Organiser Gawain Little said: ‘Profit not patients will be the central motivating force of the new system.’

An NHS spokesman said yesterday: ‘There is a peaceful protest taking place in a conference room at our headquarters in Oxford.

‘There are currently around 20 people inside the room.

‘At present the protest is not causing any disruption for people working in the building.’

Earlier in the day, the police confirmed they were in attendance at the scene.