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Famous faces join GP leaders in calling for health bill reform

Homeland actor Damian Lewis has joined a raft of GP leaders, other medics and fellow celebrities in calls to reform the Health and Social Care Act.

Mr Lewis has signed an open letter calling on MPs to vote in favour of the NHS Bill when it has its second reading in Parliament this Friday – which calls for the health secretary’s direct accountability for providing a comprehensive health service to be reinstated, ending of the internal market in the NHS and excluding it from the transatlantic trade deal TTIP.

The letter, published by the Guardian, is signed by a raft of high-profile GPs including former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada, BMA deputy chair Dr Kailash Chand and National Health Action Party candidate Dr Louise Irvine, who challenged health secretary Jeremy Hunt for his constituency in last year’s general election.

The letter backs the cross-party NHS Bill, known as the NHS reinstatement Bill, brought as a Private Member’s Bill by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas last year and was first drawn up by barrister Peter Roderick and public health Professor Allyson Pollock and consulted on in 2014.

It has been backed by Labour, Green Party, SNP and Lib Dem MPs, including now-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whilst they were still back-bench MPs, with the celebrities now joining the call to bring it forward also including actresses Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, model and actress Cara Delevingne.

The letter in the Guardian said: ‘The cross-party NHS bill to bring back the NHS in England as a national universal service and to get rid of the expensive, chaotic internal and external market is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday 11 March. 

‘We urge MPs to do everything they can to make sure the bill is debated, and to vote in favour of it so that it proceeds to the next stage.’

Meanwhile, writing in an open letter published by Pulse, Hackney GP Dr Coral Jones called on Mr Hunt himself to back the Bill on Friday.

She said: ‘This Bill guarantees a comprehensive health service, a duty abolished in 2012. The NHS Bill reverses 25 years of markets in the NHS and reconstitutes the NHS as a public service, accountable to local communities and not shareholders…

’Patients are not efficient, patients are not consumers or corporate entities, patients are people. We all need kindness, human contact, good diagnostics and treatment, not cuts and apps Mr Hunt.’

Signatories to the Guardians letter include:

Professor Clare Gerada, GP and former RCGP chair

Dr Kailash Chand, BMA deputy chair and retired GP

Dr Louise Irvine, GP and NHS Party politician

Sarah Alhulail, GP trainee and junior doctor

Dr Youssef El-Gingihy GP, author of How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps

Dr Kambiz Boomla, GP and LMC representative in Tower Hamlets, east London

Dr Coral Jones, GP in Hackney, east London

Dr Ron Singer, GP and president, Doctors in Unite (MPU)

Damian Lewis, actor

Sienna Miller, actress

Keira Knightley, actress

Cara Delevingne, model and actress

William Boyd, author

Ken Loach, film-maker

Summary of the NHS Bill

To re-establish the Secretary of State’s legal duty as to the National Health Service in England and to make provision about the other duties of the Secretary of State in that regard; to make provision about the administration and accountability of the National Health Service in England; to repeal section 1 of the National Health Service (Private Finance) Act 1997 and sections 38 and 39 of the Immigration Act 2014; to make provision about the application of international law in relation to health services in the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

Source: UK Parliament