1. What is the National Health Action Party? What does it stand for?
National Health Action is a new political party that was established following the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill through parliament. The subsequent Act effectively abolishes the NHS and represents a massive failure of parliamentary democracy in this country. In response to this, NHA was established primarily to achieve three things. First, bring to public attention the disastrous effects of the Health and Social Care Act on patients and the taxpayer. Second, work towards the restoration of the NHS. Third, highlight and challenge the lack of democracy, accountability, probity and transparency in politics by seeking to enter a number of independent, public-interest MPs into parliament.
2. Is NHA a single-issue party?
The main focus of NHA is to restore the NHS and protect the provision of health and social care from the harmful effects of commercialisation and privatisation. But to do this, we must address a wider set of issues because the NHS was more than just a structure for the delivery of healthcare. It was also a social institution that reflected national solidarity; expressed the values of equity and universalism; and institutionalised the duty of government to care for all in society. The NHS marked out a space in society where the dictates of commerce and the market were held in check so as to give expression to socially directed goals, for individuals and society as a whole. Such issues have implications that extend beyond the NHS to other areas of public policy. The health of people is also related to wider economic and welfare issues as evidenced by the wealth of research on the social determinants of health. We therefore believe that the NHA is well positioned and capable of making important contributions to public debate on a whole range of policy areas.
3. Do you have a chance to make a difference? Is there any point in voting for NHA?
We believe that there is widespread disillusionment with all the major political parties amongst the public. People are fed up with MPs who are economical with the truth, unethical and obedient to party whips. The public are also sceptical of the large number of ‘professional politicians who have either had limited or no real working experience’. We are therefore confident of being able to deliver a significant number of MPs who are only interested in serving the public interest. We would not be a major party, but we could be an influential minority party.
4. Won’t you increase the chance of the Conservative and Liberal Democratic Party candidates being elected by splitting the anti-government vote? How many candidates will be standing at the next general election?
We are not intending to contest all parliamentary seats. Instead we will be carefully and strategically selecting seats where we will have the best chance of being elected, or where we can have the biggest impact on the public’s consciousness. We hope to field about 50 candidates in the next general election.
5. The Labour party have said they will repeal the Health and Social Care Act, so why do we still need a political party to defend the NHS?
As of yet, the Labour Party has not given a detailed account of how they intend to repeal the Act or explained clearly what would replace it. Furthermore, we have seen the frequent practice of all major parties failing to honour their pre-election pledges. The Labour Party’s record on the NHS is also poor. It helped open the door to the exploitation of the health service by commercial providers. The NHA Party will be vital for ensuring that any future government repeals the most damaging aspects of the Act and restores the NHS to its founding principles.
6. Isn’t this just a party of elitist medical professionals looking after their own vested interests? Will your candidates make good MPs?
Our party has an open membership and we are encouraging involvement of all citizens and patients, as well as health care professionals. In our view, all three main political parties in England have lost credibility in their stewardship of the NHS, and reflect the increasing capture of parliament and the democratic process by powerful but narrow interest groups and financial interests. In seeking to prevent the further destruction of the NHS, we recognise the need to improve the democratic and public interest credentials of parliament and have established this party as a platform for the election of MPs and local councillors who will first and foremost serve the public interest.
Many of our prospective parliamentary candidates will be healthcare professionals, who spend their professional lives serving the public and their local communities. We believe they will have all the right skills to be good MPs. In addition, they will not be subjected to a party Whip when they vote, except on NHS issues. On other issues, each NHA MP will consult widely within their own electorate to vote in Parliament to reflect local opinions. They will not form part of a coalition in Government with any other party . This can only be good for the democratic process
7. Who is funding you?
We are funded from membership subscriptions and donations. We will follow the funding rules as set out by the Political Party Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (see http://www.electoralcommission.gov.uk/); and we intend to be fully transparent.
8. Will you put candidates forward for local council elections?
Yes. We feel it is important for the NHA to have a strong presence in local councils.
9. In times of austerity, can we afford the costs of the NHS and other public services?
We believe that it is both more affordable and more efficient to deliver key public services, especially health and social care, through a non-market system. Privatisation and commercialisation wastes vast amounts of public money by diverting into shareholder profits and fees and payments to lawyers, accountants and administrators. It will increase costs and transfer risk from the wealthiest in society to the poorest and most vulnerable.
We also note the growing anger around the failure to address the banking and credit crisis, and the public money that has been lavished on supporting the financial sector to the detriment of public services. We believe there is strong case that resources and money could be found to fund and sustain an excellent health service for all, if we had an economy that was not structured to serve the demands and greed of the top 1% wealthy.
10. Is NHA formally aligned or connected to any other organisations or movements?
NHA has no formal relationships with any of the major political parties. Nor do we have formal relations with any trade unions. However, we will be working in alliance with a range of other organisations and movements that share our goals. These include the many grassroots campaigns that have sprung up all across the country to help block the privatisation and commercialisation of the NHS. They also include organisations involved in improving political accountability and transparency. We will be seeking to gain the support of patient organisations; and we will be working with charities, alliances and foundations representing the needs and interests of the deprived and the elderly (who are especially vulnerable to the effects of commercialisation and privatisation across the health and social care sectors).