By Ian Quinn
A Conservative MP and former GP who claims coalition Government whips attempted to gag her and prevent her from speaking out against the NHS reforms has warned health secretary Andrew Lansley he is ‘losing the profession’.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, the MP for Totnes in Devon, said she refused to sit on the committee of MPs considering the health bill after being told she could only take part if she agreed not to table any amendments and always voted with the Government.
In an interview with Pulse, she also accused ministers of ignoring GPs’ concerns about key areas of the proposals, including the plans for Monitor to drive up competition, proposals to scrap practice boundaries and the speed and scale of the reforms.
‘Being a former GP, I’m very supportive of GP commissioning but I do feel there are key elements of the bill which we will need to strengthen if we are not to lose the support of the profession,’ she said.
‘Clearly I’m not going to participate in a committee if I’m told not to ask questions and that I can’t say anything against the party line. You can’t tell people they can consider a bill with the proviso that they don’t table amendments and that they always vote with the Government.’
Dr Wollaston, who does sit on the Health Committee, which has also called for major changes to the bill, said she would continue to campaign for changes to the reforms.
‘This is the ultimate NHS whistleblowing I suppose,’ she said. ‘It’s interesting to me that we seem to have lost the support of the profession, which when the reforms first came out was widely supportive. Unless they have the support of the profession I think we’re in for a rough ride.’
Dr Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes, Devon, claims she has been gagged by the Government Dr Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP for Totnes, Devon, claims she has been gagged by the Government