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Stephen Hawking joins legal battle against ACOs

Professor Stephen Hawking has joined a legal battle against government changes to the NHS.

The renowned physicist has joined the group, JR4NHS, to take legal action in an attempt to gain “proper public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny” on the move towards accountable care organisations (ACOs), which they argue will “Americanise” the health service.

The changes, which could be implemented from February 2018, will see the establishment of ACOs, which the group say would allow private healthcare and insurance companies to gain influence in the NHS.

Campaigners are concerned that the government is sneaking in changes “during the clamour of Brexit” without consulting the public or gaining parliamentary approval, and have turned to crowdfunding to raise the £144,000 needed to finance the case.

Professor Hawking argued that the move to ACOs was an “attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS.”

The scientist, who has also publicly praised the NHS many times in the past, said: “I have been lucky to receive first-rate care from the NHS.

“It is a national institution, cherished by me and millions of others, and which belongs to all of us.”

He explained that he is joining the legal action because he opposes the direction in which the NHS is being taken, “without proper public and parliamentary scrutiny, consultation and debate.”

Hawking, who has previously engaged in Twitter spats with health secretary Jeremy Hunt, accused the government of using ACOs to reduce public expenditure, cut services and allow private companies to “benefit from significant sums of public money for organising and providing services.”

“I want the attention of the people of England to be drawn to what is happening and for those who are entrusted with responsibility for the NHS to account openly for themselves in public, and to be judged accordingly,” he concluded.

Professor Allyson Pollock, campaigner and claimant in the case, said that the group is “delighted” to have Stephen Hawking join the legal action.

“The details of these ACOs must be published in full and consulted on before progressing any further.

“This should be the first rule of good and transparent administration for the NHS,” she argued.

She concluded: “If secretary of state Jeremy Hunt and Simon Stevens won’t budge, then this is the moment that everybody needs to come together and say clearly that the NHS is ours, and that we are going to fight to keep it that way.”

DH: case is ‘irresponsible scaremongering’ 

A Department of Health spokesperson said that it “strongly resists the misleading claims in this action,” calling it “irresponsible scaremongering.”

They said: “The NHS will remain a taxpayer-funded system free at the point of use; ACOs are simply about making care more joined-up between different health and care organisations.”

The spokesperson went on to say that the consultation on changes to support ACOs is “entirely appropriate and lawful.”

“We believe it is right that local NHS leaders and clinicians have the autonomy to decide the best solutions to improve care for the patients they know best — and any significant local changes are always subject to public consultation and due legal process,” they concluded.

Top image: Philip Toscano PA Wire

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Jeanne Jackson   13/12/2017 at 12:01

The Department of Health spokesperson must really think we're all daft!

Lisa   13/12/2017 at 22:56

this is so true ACOs are a disaster for the NHS and it is privatisation by the back door, Jeremy Hunt when I questioned him about it dodged the question as usual. It is bad for healthcare and bad for the NHS

Gaston   14/12/2017 at 14:52

ACO - accountable care organisation. Like the old GDR - german democratice republic which was anything but. ACO will be anything but accountable.

Allen   24/01/2018 at 12:56

Yet another attempt to privatise the NHS, this is not good for the NHS our nurse, doctors or our patients. This could be the final nail in the coffin. Resist this at all costs. Great to hear Professor Stephen Hawking is on board. We need more to get on board.

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