Two Lib Dem MPs are under scrutiny today following an ‘insulting’ email to an HIV positive Salford man after he protested over their support of controversial NHS reforms.
Andrew Schofield, a 48-year-old self-employed businessman, contacted the parliamentarians raising his concerns about how the health reforms would impact on people with HIV.
But replies from Andrew Stunell, MP for Hazel Grove, and Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, called his email an ‘unsolicited bar-room rant’ that was ‘complete drivel’.
Andrew Stunell replied to Mr Schofield via email, stating: “Take a careful look at your own email, and consider just how counterproductive it is likely to be to send an unsolicited bar-room rant to a load of very busy people at the end of a long day.”
“It has proved impossible to find any facts attached to it,” he went on.
And now a leading HIV charity has spoken out against the response from the MPs.
Catherine Murphy, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, told Mancunian Matters: “It is fair enough for Andrew Schofield to feel anxious about the Bill, and MPs have to be there to hear people’s worries about these changes to the health service.”
Mr Schofield said in his original email that the Lib Dems had ‘betrayed the British people’ by supporting the Health and Social Care Bill, and went on to say that they have ‘signed your own party’s death warrant’.
On his belief that the Bill will lead HIV patients to have to pay for their medical treatment, he said: “As for the gay MPs amongst you, speaking as a gay man myself living with HIV and with no assurances that I will not have to pay for the medication that keeps me alive in the future.”
However, Ms Murphy also called into question how much the health reforms will affect those with HIV in the way that Mr Schofield complained about.
“There is nothing in the Bill which suggests that patients will be charged for treatment once the reforms come in,” she said.
“However there are aspects of the Bill which are concerning for many people with HIV that we have taken up with the government over the last year.”
Unite head of health, Rachael Maskell, voiced similar concerns to Ms Murphy. She said: “The intemperate tone of these MPs’ language is to be deplored when a member of the public is concerned over the very sensitive issue of their future health prospects.
“Members of the public have very real concerns at the prospect of a privatised health service, and would expect that elected representatives would want to listen to these concerns."
Mr Schofield had written in his original email: “How naive I was in believing that all gay people have compassion, have a deep rooted sense of humanity and a desire to protect the most vulnerable and those at the margins of society.”
He then added: “You DISGUST me.”
Stephen Williams called the email ‘complete drivel’.
On the Health and Social Care Bill, Williams said there was ‘not the slightest hint that the Bill would lead to people having to pay for treatment for long term conditions, whether HIV or anything else’.