Stephen Hawking Takes Jeremy Hunt To Court Over “Back-Door Privatisation” Of NHS
The professor accused the Tories of driving the NHS towards a “US-style insurance system run by private companies.”

A campaign backed by Professor Stephen Hawking and a group of doctors has won permission to take health secretary Jeremy Hunt to court over proposals to reform the NHS which Hawking says amount to “back-door privatisation”.

The famous physicist has been granted a full judicial review of Hunt’s controversial plan to introduce so-called Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs). The plans which put a local area’s NHS bodies under a single budget run by one organisation.

While Hunt has tabled a plan which could allow commercial companies to run health and social services across a whole region, Hawking warned that introducing commercial companies would amount to an “attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS”.

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The professor said the NHS “must be protected from those who want to privatise it” while he announced his support for the legal action in December.

He previously said in a statement: “I am concerned that accountable care organisations are an attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS. 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.”

On the other hand, critics fear that this could lead to a “Trojan horse” effect with private firms gaining enormous power within the NHS to provide whole areas of care as well as controlling the allocation of money.

The group bringing the case, JR4NHS was founded by three doctors and a university professor. The campaign group says the introduction of accountable care organisations (ACOs) will “Americanise” the NHS.

Although lawyers from the Department of Health and NHS England have rejected the claims, a court has ruled that a full judicial review will be granted “as soon as possible after March 14” to determine the lawfulness of Hunt’s proposals.

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