Stephen Hawking, 75, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was a student, and has often spoke publicly about how the NHS has saved his life.
The scientist co-signed a letter last year calling on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to base his plans for a seven-day NHS on proper evidence.
Hunt claimed that thousands of patients died unnecessarily because of poor hospital care at the weekend, and the letter co-signed by Hawking accuses him of misrepresenting data.
At a speech at TalkNHS, Hawking attacked Hunt’s plans using no uncertain words.
Of the eight papers cited by Hunt, only four are peer-reviewed, three use data from the same population and they are not independent., with just two from the last decade. The remainder are not peer-reviewed medical literature, and they are only opinion pieces.
When his claims began, at least 13 independent peer-reviewed papers were available to the Secretary of State that refute his definition of the weekend effect.
Hunt has cherry-picked research. Speaking as a scientist, cherry-picking evidence is unacceptable.
We see that the direction in the UK is towards a US-style insurance system, run by private companies, and it’s because the balance of power right now is with the private companies.
On the other hand, there is the force of the public and of democracy. Opinion polls consistently show that the majority of the public agrees with me and is in favour of a publicly provided NHS, and opposed privatisation and a two-tier system.
In principle a seven-day service could be of benefit to patients and the NHS as a whole, however, any changes like this must be properly researched.
There has been no proper due diligence done in the case of the so-called seven-day NHS.