A headline interview with the Chief Executive of NHS England was hijacked today by a left wing pressure group.
Simon Stevens was interviewed on Radio 4 in the prime time slot reserved for the biggest interviews of the programme. As well as answering questions from presenter Sarah Montague, the programme had encouraged listeners to send in their questions from the health boss.
Mr Stevens has come under fire from many on the left because he has worked for health providers in America.
In the interview, the NHS chief made clear that radical reforms were needed to ensure the existence of the NHS in England. Many of these reforms included incentives to change the lifestyle of people in this country in order to limit the need for NHS services further down the line.
“Put bluntly, as the nation’s waistline keeps piling on the pounds, we’re piling on billions of pounds in future taxes just to pay for preventable illnesses,” he said.
As well as insisting that ambitious efficiency savings were required to close a £30bn black hole he also appealed for a 1.5 per cent increase in spendings on the NHS during the next parliament. This amounts to about £8bn but, he insists, the majority of the financial shortfall could be met through savings.
Despite many positive proposals the Question and Answer session was doomed to be dominated by fanatical opponents to any change in the Health Service with Ms Murray even saying on air “The overwhelming majority of questions we have had have been about privatisation and a belief that there will me more and more private companies delivering care.”
The many who are signed up to the 38 degrees mailing list had been bombarded with emails over the previous week saying that there was only a short amount of time to ‘save the NHS’.
And before 8 o’clock this morning, an email was sent urging readers to get involved.
Half an hour to go. NHS England’s chief exec, Simon Stephens, is about to be interviewed on Radio 4 – and they’re asking us to send in questions on Twitter.’ The email said.
‘Simon Stevens is bound to be checking his phone on the way, to see what he might get asked about. So let’s make sure that the hashtag #AskNHSEngland is flooded with our concerns about the NHS.’
And they even provided a direct link and subjects for the questions which could be asked.
Two such questions in the interview included ‘Does Simon Stevens think he can be unbiased on TTIP given his links to ‘a pro TTIP lobby group” and ‘Why nearly all the contracts that are being tended within the NHS are going to private companies and ‘we the public’ feel he’s paving the way to move to an American style health service.’