A new political party dedicated to opposing the government’s reforms of the NHS has said it will target the seats of high-profile Tories, including prime minister David Cameron, at the next general election.
The National Health Action party, made up of healthcare professionals opposing the reforms, is also aiming to contest the seats of chancellor George Osborne, health secretary Jeremy Hunt, education minister David Laws and Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary responsible for the controversial reforms.
Co-leader Clive Peedell, a consultant clinical oncologist, said: “David Cameron and Andrew Lansley are the main creators of market-driven health policies which are destroying the NHS.
“David Cameron has full responsibility for pushing through the Health and Social Care Bill this year, ignoring fierce opposition from the public, the medical profession and other NHS workers.
“George Osborne is pressing ahead with incredibly damaging austerity measures, and his Treasury is taking back front-line money from the NHS. David Laws is a Liberal Democrat who does not believe in the NHS and wants to see a European-model social insurance scheme for healthcare.”
The National Health Action party, co-led by Dr Peedell and Dr Richard Taylor, a former independent MP for Wyre Forest from 2001 to 2010, is aiming to put up 50 candidates to campaign against the coalition’s Health and Social Care Act.
The party’s members say the act - which was pushed through parliament by the coalition despite fierce opposition from NHS professionals, patient groups, unions and Labour - will allow the NHS in England to be “increasingly dismantled”.
Dr Peedell added: “NHA will send a clear message to the public that the NHS will be increasingly dismantled and handed over to the corporate sector unless we fight to maintain it as a public service, dedicated to the public interest.”
He said pro-austerity agendas damaged people’s health, pushed up suicide rates and increased demand on healthcare resources. As health secretary, he said Jeremy Hunt had a “credibility issue and no significant experience in healthcare policy at a crucial time for the NHS”.
The NHA is strongly critical of the coalition’s handling of the NHS and hopes Labour will repeal the Act if it wins the 2015 election.
Dr Taylor said: “We won’t stand for a seat where the candidate shares our views on the needs of the NHS. We will be targeting largely coalition seats because the coalition government will put in these drastic changes.”
He did not rule out working with Labour in the future but said: “Personally if it was a hung parliament and it was suggested we went into coalition we would certainly not want to do that.”
He explained the party would largely focus on social care issues and any elected MPs would form other policies after hearing from their constituents.
Jacky Davis, a consultant radiologist and potential candidate, said she was involved “because if we don’t come out fighting for the NHS we are going to lose it, it’s as simple as that”.
She added: “The public are sick and tired of being lied to about health services by all three main parties. They can see we do not want the reforms to happen and are going to be the only people who can express this.”
The Health and Social Care Act reached the statute book earlier this year but only after the weight of opposition persuaded David Cameron to “pause” and revise the legislation after further consultation.
Under the legislation, a number of health bodies will be cut and GP-led groups will be given control of much of the budget, and more competition into services will be introduced.
Mr Lansley, the health secretary when it was piloted it through the Commons, was later demoted to leader of the commons in the September reshuffle.
The party’s first annual general meeting will be held early in the new year.