By Alisdair Stirling
Exclusive: The GP behind a letter-writing campaign in support of the NHS reforms has told Pulse he is ‘disgusted’ by Labour´s dismissal of the initiative as ‘Tory spin’.
Dr Jonathan Munday, a GP in Westminster and chair of the Victoria Commissioning Consortium, is a former Conservative councillor and mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, but said today he was no longer a member of the Conservative party and had ‘nothing to do with Tory Central Office’.
Dr Munday was caught up in a political storm today after orchestrating a letter signed by a total of 42 consortium chairs backing the reforms and published in the Daily Telegraph. The letter, which has also been sent to Prime Minister David Cameron and health secretary Andrew Lansley, argued the Government’s controversial NHS reforms will benefit society’s most vulnerable people and ‘are not revolutionary but an evolution’.
Shadow health secretary John Healey strongly condemned the letter today, and said the signatories were out of step with wider GP opinion.
‘Nobody should be fooled,’ he said. ‘This letter, led by an ex-Conservative councillor, is part of the Tory spin operation to save the health bill.’
‘Those who have signed the letter are at odds with mainstream doctors, nurses and patients who have serious concerns about the Government’s NHS plans. As the Royal College of GPs – representing 42,000 GPs – said on Monday, Andrew Lansley’s legislation will fragment patient care and cause irreparable damage to the core values of the NHS.’
But Dr Munday, who was first elected to Kensington and Chelsea Council in May 1986, told Pulse: ‘I’m disgusted that John Healey made this suggestion without ringing me to check. I haven’t been a Tory councillor since 2002. I am no longer a member of the Tory party. I have nothing to do with Tory Central Office.’
Dr Munday declined to discuss his reasons for leaving the Conservative party.
The Guardian reported this morning that Dr Munday had urged colleagues to sign the letter, warning that political pressure on health secretary Andrew Lansley was so great that the Government may ‘abort GP commissioning entirely or, almost worse, may so water it down and constrain it that GP consortia will have the worst of all worlds.’
Dr Munday said he had been ‘delighted’ by the response from consortia chairs and confirmed that they had signed the letter ‘in a personal capacity’, for the most part without backing from their consortia boards.
Read the full letter here
To read the full letter from the 42 consortium chairs, please click here.Dr Munday has found himself embroiled in a political row after organising the letter in support of the Government’s health bill