Hawking VS Hunt Round 2: Lawsuit
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has joined a lawsuit aimed at halting changes to the NHS that he fears could lead to wider privatisation and fewer resources.
In particular it is the introduction of accountable care organisations (ACOs) that concerns Hawking. UK ACOs have been based on their US counterparts that have a similar function there.
Hawking explains: “They have not been established by statute, and they appear to be being used for reducing public expenditure, for cutting services and for allowing private companies to receive and benefit from significant sums of public money for organising and providing services.”
Hawking has described ACOs as an “attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS.”
Hawking joining the lawsuit means reopening the disagreement he had with Hunt earlier this year when the two publicly exchanged views on the NHS. He now joins four academics and NHS campaigners in bringing the lawsuit.
As one of the highest profile names joining the lawsuit Hawking has said: “I am joining this legal action because the NHS is being taken in a direction which I oppose, as I stated in August, without proper public and parliamentary scrutiny, consultations and debate,” said Hawking.
“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.”
The Department of Health has said: “We strongly resist the misleading claims in this action; it is irresponsible scaremongering to suggest that Accountable Care Organisations are being used to support privatisation and harm the fundamental principles of the NHS.
“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.”