A GP leader who has been filmed chasing health secretary Andrew Lansley on a visit to a London hospital to voice his concerns over the health bill, says he was forced to take action after his requests for a talk with Mr Lansley were snubbed.
Dr Ron Singer, president of the Medical Practitioners Union and member of the GPC, has told Pulse of his frustration at having to ‘shout’ his health bill concerns to Andrew Lansley when the health secretary visisted the Royal Free hospital in North London yesterday. Dr Singer, who wasfilmed telling Mr Lansley he has been a doctor for 30 years, said he felt forced to pursue the health secretary to raise his views after Mr Lansley responded to requests from campaigners to talk by ‘pushing past’ them and ignoring their concerns.
Dr Singer was part of a group of around 25 protestors who gathered at the hospital in Hampstead, North London, yesterday ahead of Mr Lansley’s visit. The protest group included campaigner June Hautot who had been filmed ambushing Mr Lansley outside Downing Street ahead of the Prime Minister’s recent health bill summit.
Dr Singer said Mr Lansley’s team had smuggled the health secretary into the hospital via a back entrance to avoid campaigners. He said that the protestors waited for Mr Lansley to exit a ward before approaching him to talk but were snubbed.
‘When Mr Lansley came out of the room we all asked to speak with him but he just pushed past us, surrounded by police and security, into the next venue. I was so angry and frustrated that when he came out the next time I felt the need to shout my concerns,’ Dr Singer said.
‘He didn’t look to the left or right. He just had a fixed face on and just totally and utterly ignored us, which is I think disrespectful and that’s why I started explaining that I’m a doctor of 30 years. But he will only talk to people who will given him the message that support his views.’
Dr Singer added: ‘There has been a frustration that Mr Lansley is apparently a nice person but he seems to have a regard for his views that makes him very stubborn. We’ve tried to engage him at all sort of levels but he’s someone that picks and chooses very carefully who he talks to. I have been campaigning against the health bill in the traditional ways that are open to us – letter writing, picketing or lobbying him when he makes public visits.’
Dr Singer said he backed recent moves by CCG board members to oppose the health bill, revealed by Pulse last week, and urged all GPs to contribute to a new survey gauging CCG support for Mr Lansley’s reforms.
‘I think he shows a level of arrogance at an organisation level and a personal level that is shameful. I think he looks in the mirror and sees a genius whereas everyone else sees an incompetent health secretary. To have worked on an idea for five years and to produce a bill that has 1000 amendments and even at this stage is having Government amendments put forward shows exactly how chaotic a bill this is.’
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The NHS is a matter for passionate debate. Ministers are used to meeting protesters on their travels and take that in their stride.’