‘Desperate’ Tory plot to organise own letter from doctors exposed in bombshell leaked email

The Mirror   10 APR 2015

Jeremy Hunt has been left red-faced after the leaked email was posted on social media by top health commentator Roy Lilley

Red-faced: Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has been left red-faced tonight as a bombshell leaked email exposes a “desperate” Tory plot to organise their own letter from doctors.

It comes just days after more than 100 leading doctors signed a letter accusing the Tory-led coalition of endangering the NHS in England.

They described how the health service is “withering away”, and warned that patients would be faced with higher costs but lower standards due to the growing involvement of private firms in the NHS.

Tonight the leaked email was published on social media by top health commentator Roy Lilley who tweeted: “Tories canvassing for a ‘support the NHS’ letter from doctors – the games continue!”

Email to Doctors asking them to write to Jeremy Hunt’s advisor to get a letter asking the government to stop using the NHS as a political football
Titled “CONFIDENTIAL – Conservative Health”, it said: “Dear doctor members, There is a letter being put together saying that the NHS shouldn’t be used as a political football during the election campaign.

“If you are willing in principle to support this, please reply to Jeremy Hunt’s adviser (Christina Robinson, cc’d) and she’ll share the draft text with you.

“You can then confirm to Christina if you are happy to be a signatory.”

A Labour source told the Daily Mirror: “This is desperate stuff from a Tory election campaign that is stuck in the gutter.

“David Cameron has nothing to offer patients and can’t escape his dismal track record on the NHS. It won’t escape people’s notice that it comes on the same day waiting lists hit a new high.”

In the letter to The Guardian earlier this week, the doctors wrote: “People may be unaware that under the coalition, dozens of accident and emergency departments and maternity units have been closed or earmarked for closure or downgrading.

“In addition, 51 NHS walk-in centres have been closed or downgraded in this time, and more than 60 ambulance stations have shut and more than 100 general practices are at risk of closure.”

Prime Minister David Cameron talking at a Dementia Friends, Alzheimer's Society event at The Clare Charity Centre in Saunderton, BuckinghamshirePrime Minister David Cameron talking at a Dementia Friends, Alzheimer’s Society event at The Clare Charity Centre in Saunderton, Buckinghamshire


Signatories to the letter include Dr Clare Gerada, a former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners; Prof John Ashton, retired director of public health; epidemiologist professor Michel Coleman; and Simon Capewell, professor of public health in Liverpool.

Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary care at Oxford; Martin McKee, professor of European public health, and Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine in Manchester, also gave their names to the document.

The Conservatives responded to the doctors’ letter by accusing Labour of orchestrating it in an attempt to “weaponise” the NHS.

Labour and Dr Gerada denied the claim.

Dr Gerada said she had put the letter together with “a few other medical leaders”.

She added: “I’m not doing this from a party political point of view. My views on the health service and the health and social care act go back and are well-known. This letter was drafted by me and some others.”

The email exposed tonight will be embarrassing for both Mr Hunt and Mr Cameron after the Conservatives have repeatedly accused Labour of “weaponising” the NHS.

A Conservative spokesman did not deny trying to organise a letter and told the Daily Mirror: “Of course we think it’s completely wrong for the NHS to be used as a political football and want as many doctors as possible to make this clear.”

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