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Listen to nurses, if not Stephen Fry

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Stephen Fry has backed the dropping of the Bill Stephen Fry has backed the dropping of the Bill

It is easy to jump on the bandwagon in opposing the Health and Social Care Bill. Rarely a day goes by when an influential body does not add its name to the list of those demanding that ministers kill off the troubled legislation.

As Independent Nurse goes to press, signatures on the e-petition to Drop the Bill have passed the 100,000 mark, meaning it must now be considered for a Commons debate. Support for the petition has surged in past weeks leading shadow health secretary Andy Burnham to describe it as 'a deafening cry supported by patients, professions and even members of Mr Cameron's Cabinet'.

Of course, party political back-stabbing can be as much about personal gain as doing the right thing. Similarly, all power to Stephen Fry, Jamie Oliver, Rio Ferdinand et al for pledging support for the petition, but celebrity endorsement should not drive public opinion. Never forget that 'Jeremy Clarkson for prime minister' is still one of the most popular e-petitions to date.

In truth, few people signing the NHS e-petition will have read the Bill in depth, trawled through amendments or closely followed its progress over the past year. What does carry weight is the voices of health professionals: most nurses are not, by nature, negative, self-interested, change-phobic or unrealistic. They accept the need for change but also see - from the frontline - the dangers of change that is poorly thought through or executed.

In an online poll of IN readers, 83% of the 242 respondents called for the Health Bill to be dropped; 84% of 241 respondents wanted Mr Lansley to step down from his role as health secretary. As one practising nurse succinctly puts it: 'Why is Andrew Lansley not listening to the health professionals who have expressed concerns? Changes to PCTs are happening now, by stealth, which is completely unconstitutional as the Bill has not gone through Parliament.'

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