Safeguarding the Future of the NHS
Workers’ Weekly Interview with Dr Helen Salisbury, National Health Action Party candidate, Oxford West and Abingdon
WW: Can you tell us why you decided to stand in the general election as the NHA Party candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon?
HS: I am standing for the National Health Action Party because I am so worried about the direction the NHS is being taken in by governments of all different parties. It is underfunded and being rapidly privatised and fragmented. If we do not act now we will lose this country’s most precious asset. I’m standing in Oxford West and Abingdon because that is where I live and have worked as a doctor for 20 years.
WW: Could you explain why the NHA Party formed and what it represents?
HS: The NHA Party was formed by worried doctors, nurses, paramedics and others after the Coalition government proposed the Health and Social Care Act which removed the Secretary of State’s duty to provide comprehensive health care and opened up our NHS to the private sector. The NHA Party represents a return to the founding principles of the NHS, a publicly funded, publicly provided, publicly accountable NHS. It is also an anti-austerity party as the economics of austerity are damaging to individuals and the economy.
WW: What has been your personal experience of the changes brought about in the NHS by the current Coalition?
HS: I have many patients really struggling to deal with punitive benefit sanctions and with unjust ATOS assessments of fitness to work. My patients are waiting longer for appointments and not getting the social care they need but cannot afford. They are having operations cancelled and if they do get into hospital are likely get stuck there because of a lack of social care. Contracting out has led to some services just not working – we have had four providers of Drugs and Alcohol services in the last three years. I could go on…
WW: What has been your experience in standing as a candidate so far? How is the campaign going?
HS: Standing as a candidate has been hard work, especially for a small party with no money. I have personally put a lot of leaflets through a lot of letterboxes over many weekends this year. I have enjoyed speaking at the hustings and getting my views across, and there is a surprisingly warm relationship between the candidates of the different parties. I have become more conscious of press and media bias and have to work hard at not shouting at the radio. How is it going? I’ll find out next week.
WW: Thank you very much. We wish you every success with your campaign.