Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Health and Social Care Bill

In defence of the NHS: why writing to the House of Lords was necessary

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 11 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6535
  1. Martin McKee, professor of European public health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ,
  2. Allyson M Pollock, professor of public health research and policy, Queen Mary, University of London ,
  3. Aileen Clarke, professor of public health and health services research, University of Warwick ,
  4. David McCoy, associate director of public health, Inner North West London Primary Care Trust, and honorary senior clinical researcher, University College London ,
  5. John Middleton, director of public health, NHS ,
  6. Rosalind Raine, professor of healthcare evaluation, University College London ,
  7. Alex Scott-Samuel, senior lecturer (clinical) in public health, University of Liverpool

Last week more than 400 public health doctors, specialists, and academics from across the country wrote an open letter to the House of Lords stating that the Health and Social Care Bill will do “irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients, and to society as a whole,” that it will “erode the NHS’s ethical and cooperative foundations,” and that it will “not deliver efficiency, quality, fairness, or choice.”1

The prime minister claimed that the letter actually supported aspects of the bill, while the secretary of state for health was dismissive, maintaining that people signed it without reading it and that it was “politically motivated” and unsupported by “a shred of evidence.”

These claims were wrong. There was no qualified support for the bill. Nor did signatories write in a political capacity: they …

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