Tory Health Minister avoids protest over English NHS reforms


By a Newsnet reporter
Conservative Health Minister Andrew Lansley has come under fire after refusing to speak with protestors angry about proposed changes to the English NHS.
Mr Lansley was visiting the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on Monday afternoon when he was confronted by a small group of protestors with placards denouncing planned reforms to the health service south of the border.

The UK Minister was confronted by Dr Ron Singer, a retired GP with 30 years’ experience.  Dr Singer is also President of the General Practitioner’s Union.

However, surrounded by police officers and security guards, Mr Lansley ignored the retired GP who loudly condemned the planned reforms to the English NHS.

Unable to get near the Minister, a frustrated Dr Singer shouted:

“I’m a doctor of 30 years Mr Lansley, explain to me how this is going to make patients better, because nobody understands your bill.”

“It has a thousand amendments because it was so poorly drafted.” he added.

As Lansley walked on, ignoring the Doctor, police officers could be seen physically preventing what appeared to be an elderly protestor from getting near the Minister.

The lady is believed to be June Hautot, a former Unison rep who had already confronted Mr Lansley after a similar protest outside Downing Street in February.

Planned reforms to the NHS in England include giving GPs control of much of the NHS budget and opening up the health service to greater competition from the private and voluntary sector.

The reforms have proved controversial in England with Dr Graham Winyard, an ex-deputy chief medical officer and medical director of the NHS in England, informing Nick Clegg in a letter that “with great sadness” he was leaving the Lib Dems over the party’s stance on the reforms.

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary for England, Andy Burnham has called for Lib Dems to join Labour in order to defeat several amendments to the Health Bill. However Mr Burnham’s own party have faced charges of hypocrisy after a motion tabled by Mr Burnham in which he praised the involvement of the private sector in the English NHS.

Supporters of the motion, which hailed the private sector’s “important role”, included Scottish MPs Margaret Curran and Anas Sarwar.

The Health reforms will have no effect in Scotland where the NHS is directly under the control of the Scottish Government.