Exclusive Former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada has quit NHS England to be able to speak out against what she calls the Conservatives’ ‘desperate quest for privatisation’.
She told Pulse that running the primary care ‘transformation’ programme in the capital as chair of NHS England London’s primary care clinical board had been ‘fantastic’ but that she saw her ‘bigger role’ as a whistleblower on NHS policy – especially in the run-up to the general election.
Professor Gerada, who has filled the time by adding more sessions of clinical work as a GP in Lewisham in south London, said it was ‘no secret now’ that people working within the NHS both at senior and junior manager level were ‘frightened of speaking out and whistleblowing’ and she had not wanted to ‘embarrass’ her employer by doing so.
She said: ‘I think the big things that are wrong cannot be fixed by me [working for NHS England]. These are big things like restoring the secretary of state’s duty to provide a comprehensive health system, like ensuring that we have equity of funding across different areas. Those are the things that are being rapidly removed and being put into the hands of quangos, really.’
The former RCGP chair said that the ‘important thing’ is to bring the NHS ‘back to public ownership, back into proper finance to being properly delivered – and stop this desperate quest for privatisation’
She added: ‘Despite what the Conservatives are saying, as GPs we only need to look around us to know what is going on, and that is that people are no longer able to access the care that they need to because of serious problems with funding and a constant move towards tendering and all things like that.’
Professor Gerada’s NHS campaigning work in the election run up has included an open letter to the Guardian signed by 140 doctors casting a damning verdict on the Coalition’s NHS track record, but she faced a backlash when Tories seized on her membership in the Labour Party, calling the letter a ‘Labour-instigated stitch up’.
Professor Gerada, who told the Telegraph newspaper that she was ‘not a Labour Party activist’, told Pulse that ‘as an outed Labour card carrier’ she hopes the party will win but she thinks next week’s election is too close to call.