TWO North-East consultants have pledged to run 160 miles from Nye Bevan’s statue in Cardiff to the Department of Health in London to rally opposition to controversial Government health reforms.

Clive Peedell, 39, and David Wilson, 40, both cancer specialists at The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, aim to complete the route in six days.

While Mr Wilson is a seasoned marathon runner, this will be Mr Peedell’s first taste of long distance running.

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The doctors are planning to wear T-shirts featuring Nye Bevan, the Labour minister who set up the NHS in 1948.

Mr Peedell said the aim of the run is to raise awareness about the lack of democratic mandate for the proposed NHS reforms.

“The aim is to tell the Department of Health that the public don’t want these reforms.

We have to stop them,” he said.

He said the Government’s plans would open up the NHS to increasing privatisation and help to undermine the founding principles of the NHS.

Mr Peedell predicted that if the reforms go through, people would eventually be expected to take out health insurance to pay for some health care.

“I will be calling for the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nurses to sign a joint letter calling for the immediate withdrawal of the bill,” he said.

The Teesside consultant said the run is symbolic, as Bevan once declared that the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.

Mr Peedell, the co-chairman of the NHS Consultants’ Association, said there was no proof that private companies could run the NHS more efficiently, saying the NHS as one of the most cost-effective and best performing health systems in the world.

He said more people needed to stand up for Bevan’s principles and oppose the changes.

Bevan resigned from the Labour Government in 1951 in protest at prescription charges.

The runners will set off from Cardiff on Tuesday, January 10, and aim to reach London by Sunday, January 15.

Readers can follow Mr Peedell on Twitter@cpeedell