TENS of thousands of people are calling for a ban on MPs receiving donations and hospitality offers from companies with links to the private healthcare sector.

Campaign group EveryDoctor has launched a petition calling for the practice to be kicked out, insisting it is wrong for politicians to be forging financial links with private healthcare firms while being tasked with making vital decisions about the NHS.

The petition – which will be sent to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a few weeks – has been signed by almost 14,000 people in just a week, with EveryDoctor insisting while MPs are acting within the rules, many people are keen to make clear they don’t agree with their behaviour.

Chief executive Julia Patterson told The National: “We’re becoming increasingly interested and concerned about politicians’ links to private healthcare.

“Even though these donations, earnings and hospitality offers do fall within the rules, a lot of the public don’t agree with it.

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“There needs to be a conversation about how MPs are allowed to receive these earnings and donations because there’s been various conversations during the pandemic, and since then, about the behaviour of politicians, some of which has been questionable and some of which has been investigated, and I think we really need to ask questions about who this behaviour benefits.

“MPs are elected to serve their constituents and everything they do should be done in order to serve the interests of those people. It’s difficult to see how this behaviour would benefit constituents, so who is it benefitting?

“I think at a time when the NHS is in the worst state its ever been, particularly with the winter we’ve just had when the NHS was in a state of collapse, we need to take stock of what’s going on and what our decision-makers are doing and that’s why this petition is important.”

EveryDoctor – which exists to try and protect the NHS, staff and patients from damaging policies – has collected data on which MPs have interests in, or have been supported by, private healthcare organisations.

The Register of Members Interests shows LibDem MP Tim Farron accepted a donation of £5000 in 2020 from Trevor Chinn, a senior adviser to CVC capital partners which has extensive private healthcare-related investments, while Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith earnt £25,000 in 2020 from Tunstall Health Group, a company delivering private community and digital healthcare.

The National: Julia Patterson says she doesn't understand how MPs receiving donations from private healthcare firms benefits their constituentsJulia Patterson says she doesn't understand how MPs receiving donations from private healthcare firms benefits their constituents (Image: Carla Watkins)

Other MPs who have accepted tens of thousands of pounds in donations from companies or individuals linked to private healthcare include Labour MPs Angela Rayner (£50,000 in 2021) and Wes Streeting (£193,000 between 2020 and 2023).

A map the group has drawn up showing this information also shows pinpoints areas where non-NHS providers are providing NHS-funded healthcare, also known as outsourcing.

Patterson, who trained in psychiatry before focusing on campaigning, said she and the group’s supporters were becoming increasingly concerned about privatisation across the NHS and the growing trend of people having to turn to private healthcare because of the state of the health service.

She said the NHS constitution was being “failed”.

“We’ve got a situation where the private healthcare sector is growing in the UK because as people are increasingly unable to access healthcare they need, many people are turning to the private sector,” Patterson said.

“That’s a concern because the NHS is meant to provide equal care for everyone. The NHS constitution is being failed because the NHS is not providing free and equal access to every person. Meanwhile, the private sector is profiting enormously from this.

“People are falling between the gaps too because not everyone can afford private healthcare.  We’re really concerned about where this is going.”

Patterson said the current processes of how MPs are allowed to receive donations need to be reviewed.

She added: “It’s really urgent because the situation in the NHS is urgent.

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“What tends to happen is in the winter things reach a crisis point and everyone wants to talk about it but then we get into the summer months and the pressures ease slightly on the service, and the conversation slips away from view.

“We’re really worried about this winter potentially being worse than last winter and our view is, how many deaths are we willing to tolerate before the government reviews the processes of the way that our decision makers are behaving?”

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Code of Conduct for MPs sets out the rules on the Registration and Declaration of Members' Interests."