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Witney by election hustings – if you want to hear the truth about the NHS, invite the NHA

Tonight, Monday 10 October, in Witney there will be a hustings for the by-election to be held next Thursday, 20 October, for the seat recently vacated by David Cameron.

But Dr Helen Salisbury, the National Health Action Party's candidate, has not been invited to be on the platform.
West Oxfordshire has its share of threatened and actual cuts and closures to the NHS. Members of the NHA have been out campaigning with Dr Salisbury and know how important this is to the voters in the Witney constituency.

In Witney itself, there are worries about the future of the Deer Park GP Surgery, temporarily reprieved from closure by an extension to Virgin's contract. In Chipping Norton we were told how people felt they had been lied to about the downgrading of their local community hospital.

Everywhere there are concerns about the downgrading of the maternity services at the Horton general and fears that the loss of its A&E will follow. In 2008 there was a decision to remove consultant led maternity from the Horton which was dropped following an independent review which recommended that it was not a safe way to provide the service. The conditions which were relevant then remain relevant now, especially around transport difficulties to the John Radcliffe in Oxford, where the services have been transferred.

The National Health Action Party was created by doctors and nurses in response to the dismantling of the NHS in England. Dr Salisbury is a local GP and sees first hand the effects of the cuts and closure. She also understands the context across the country.

Dr Salisbury should be invited on every platform where the voters are able to put questions to the candidates. All the main parties have played a role in the reshaping of the NHS into a market system. The danger that the competitive tendering system can leave services without bidders because they are not 'profitable' enough is clearly illustrated at Deer Park. The consequence of a service without bidders is patients without services.

It is not good enough to have those who are responsible for these changes talking about how they will do their best for the NHS. They have not done their best. They have done their worst.  It is hypocrisy for them to say they are fighting against the very changes their policies have created. They should be challenged at the by-election ballot box and at the hustings.

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