A GP in Northumberland has appealed for healthcare workers to stand as MPs, saying this will offer the electorate a better choice of health and other policies than those on offer from the established parties.
Dr Steven Ford, writing in this week's British Medical Journal (BMJ), says he himself intends to stand at the next general election.
"Ours is a participatory democracy," he writes in the article. "Membership of the hopelessly debt-laden political parties is at an all-time low, and the esteem in which parliament is held is likewise low." Could we make a change, he asks?
Dr Ford argues that the public has more trust in doctors and healthcare workers than in politicians.
He says that problems have arisen from healthcare reforms and we can predict more of the same. "As a group, we have been on the receiving end of much government-inspired unpleasantness. If we are sincere in our reservations about the course proposed for healthcare in the UK, is it legitimate or excusable to do nothing?" he asks.
Dr Ford writes: "With few exceptions, healthcare workers are hardworking, dynamic, committed, disposed to serve the community, of broadly liberal outlook, and of beneficent intent. These surely are the sorts of values that the electorate might care to see more widely represented in parliament.
"By comparison, parliamentarians are increasingly narrowly confined in their views on policy and preoccupied with party matters to the exclusion of governing effectively.
"MPs are not better than the rest of us," he says, "and do not deserve the unopposed scope for harm that the electorate has so far given them. Acquiescence is complicity – examine your conscience before discounting yourself as a candidate in your own constituency".
"At the least," he concludes, "an all constituency health professional candidacy will push the health issue up the political agenda, and that might promote fresh thinking and debate. It's time to put up or shut up."
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