NEWS
09/12/2017 14:54 GMT

Stephen Hawking Joins Doctors Bringing Legal Action Against Jeremy Hunt

It's not the first time the pair have clashed either.

Stephen Hawking is joining a group of doctors to bring legal action against Jeremy Hunt over the NHS privatisation

The renowned professor said in a Facebook post that he would be joining Dr Colin Hutchinson, Professor Allyson Pollock, Professor Sue Richards and Dr Graham Winyard to bring the action against the health secretary regarding the introduction of accountable care organisations (ACOs).

ACOs are private companies being introduced with the aim of helping different parts of the NHS work together in a more integrated way but Hawking called them “an attack on the fundamental principles”.

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Stephen Hawking is joining legal action against Jeremy Hunt over the introduction of ACOs

In the US, groups of the same name and model are awarded contracts worth billions of dollar to run services.

Their critics fear that they prioritise profit.

In a statement, Hawking said:

“I have been lucky to receive first-rate care from the NHS. It is a national institution, cherished by me and millions of others, and which belongs to all of us.

“I am joining this legal action because the NHS is being taken in a direction which I oppose, as I stated in August, without proper public and parliamentary scrutiny, consultation and debate.

“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.

“I want the attention of the people of England to be drawn to what is happening and for those who are entrusted with responsibility for the NHS to account openly for themselves in public, and to be judged accordingly.”

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Jeremy Hunt and Stephen Hawking have clashed in the past over the NHS

This is not the first time the physicist and health secretary have clashed.

Hawking wrote an article in the Guardian criticising Tory politicians for damaging the NHS through privatisation, funding cuts and pay caps and said that health policy was moving towards “a US-style insurance system run by private companies”.

Hunt hit back, saying that Hawking was “once again wrong in his characterisation of government policy towards the NHS”.

HuffPost UK has contacted NHS England for comment.