Mr Hunt is claiming that Prof Hawking and the other people involved in this legal action are wrong to say he is following a US-style privatisation agenda with his introduction of Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) – which are modelled on organisations with the same name in the privatised United States health system.
Is anyone having trouble seeing the contradiction in that claim?
Professor Hawking challenged Mr Hunt to a public debate on the health service earlier in the year. Mr Hunt ran away from it.
Now actor Ralf Little has taken up the call for a public debate, supported by Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News. Mr Hunt ran away from it.
When this case gets to court, do you think anyone from the Department of Health will actually turn up?
Stephen Hawking has reignited his public dispute with Jeremy Hunt by joining a legal action aimed at scuppering an NHS shake-up that he fears will lead to greater privatisation and rationing of resources.
The physicist has become a party to a lawsuit that is seeking to stop the introduction of the first accountable care organisations (ACOs) into the NHS in England in April.
“I am concerned that accountable care organisations are an attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS,” Hawking told the Guardian, explaining his move.
“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.”
ACOs have aroused suspicion among Labour MPs and NHS campaigners because they are modelled on organisations of the same name that play a key role in healthcare in some parts of the US.
Hawking has become a “proposed claimant” alongside four academics and NHS campaigners, known as the judicial review group. They hope high court judges will grant them a judicial review to stop Hunt and NHS England bringing in ACOs without the move first being subjected to public consultation and scrutiny by parliament.
Hawking and Hunt became embroiled in a war of words in August after Hawking used a Guardian article to accuse the Conservatives of causing the NHS’s difficulties by underfunding it and Hunt of “cherrypicking” and misrepresenting research findings to suit his arguments.
Hunt claimed on Twitter and in a newspaper piece that Hawking, a “personal hero” to him, had wrongly claimed that the NHS was heading towards a “US-style insurance system”, saying there was no evidence to back this up.
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