Published: 16:00, 07 September 2014
A retired GP from Maidstone is among 12 candidates campaigning against creeping privatisation of the NHS set to take on high-profile seats at the next general election.
Dr Paul Hobday, from Loose, who was a GP in Sutton Valence until last year, will be standing against Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant (Con) for the National Health Action Party.
The up-and-coming political party was launched in 2012 in protest at the government’s NHS reforms and creeping privatisation, and wants to put the NHS firmly at the top of the election agenda.
He said: “Contributing to my decision to retire was the commercialisation of our NHS and the need I have to fight the coalition government’s undemocratic, clandestine privatisation, driven by my anger that the public are being kept in the dark. With all the main political parties promoting a market in healthcare, the electorate, who believe in Nye Bevan’s founding principles, are disenfranchised.
“The National Health Action Party is fighting for those principles and by standing for election I hope to be able to wake up the public to the terminal threat to our NHS.”
The group, which agreed its candidates at a party conference on Sunday, will also be fielding candidates against the Prime Minister, David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith.
NHA co-leader Dr Clive Peedell told the conference: “It’s going to be one of the tightest elections ever and voters need to realise that the very survival of the NHS is at stake. It won’t endure another five years of continued closures, cost-cutting and privatisation.
“If we could get even just one or two MPs elected, the public would know there’d be representatives in Parliament on whom they could always rely to act purely in the best interests of patients and of the NHS, without letting political ideology get in the way. For too long the NHS has been used as a political football. In the event of a hung parliament, it’s possible that we could be in a strong position to influence health policy.
“Huge numbers of people are disillusioned with the current political choices on offer. We hope that in the areas where we’re standing, voters will back our message.
“We don’t want to be politicians but someone’s got to stop the decimation of our NHS. A properly funded and publicly delivered NHS is the cornerstone of a fair, just and healthy society. We’re prepared to fight for that.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will be facing a challenge from Dr Louise Irvine, chairman of the successful Save Lewisham Campaign.
NHS nurse, Kathryn Anderson, will be taking on Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford & Woodford, while Dr Peedell, a cancer specialist, is to stand against Mr Cameron in Witney, an area where he grew up.
He said: “I’m challenging David Cameron because he is ultimately responsible for the policies of his party and the Coalition Government, which include the dismantling and increasing privatisation of the NHS. The public don’t want this and his party and the coalition government had no democratic mandate to do it. He must be held to account at the ballot box.”
The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is being challenged in his Sheffield Hallam constituency by disability rights campaigner, Naveen Judah.
Party co-leader Dr Richard Taylor, is also standing to try and regain his old seat of Wyre Forest which he won as an Independent in 2001 and held in 2005.
He is currently recovering from a hip operation carried out at Kidderminster Hospital, the hospital he campaigned to save.