I am furious.

You can imagine my disbelief when along with well over a hundred local people, I attended a superbly organised public meeting called by Action4OurCare to discuss the English / Welsh border anomaly only to find Mark Harper MP suddenly the saviour of the NHS.

And yet at the same meeting he somehow managed to lambast Welsh health policy, which is to preserve the foundations of the NHS, at least in Wales.

This is the very same man who was more than happy for Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS – who commission community hospitals like Lydney and the Dilke) to leave the NHS and open it up to the powers of the private market.

It took a public campaign to take GCS to the High Court and reverse that policy. A policy that Mark Harper supported.

Certainly it is true that the Aneurin Bevan Health Board had failed to take into account the views of local people who wished to continue to use their English-based GPs rather than Welsh ones (since Wales was funding those practices on the border).

Mr Harper's view is that this is entirely because of Welsh independence. He completely disagrees with the Welsh Government's decision to protect the NHS and we therefore presume their policy of free prescriptions, something we don't have in England.

He was more interested in supporting this thing called 'choice'.

I rather think that Action4OurCare used the word in their publicity to express their frustration in the lack of public engagement over the Welsh policy.

But, I feel, Mr Harper exploited this.

In reality his party's idea of 'choice' is quite simply more private out-sourcing in the NHS than ever before.

That's the choice of commissioning services to use 'any willing provider'; the 'choice' that pits hospital against hospital in a battle for ever-decreasing funding.

This is the reality of their despicable Health & Social Welfare act.

I thought I had seen it all. But then this woman also on the panel of speakers – from the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (who dish out the contracts locally) – reassured us of just how great they were at consultation with the public, unlike the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, she smirked.

This is the same group of people who we defeated at the High Court over Gloucestershire Care Services' attempt to take Community Hospitals out of the NHS.

And we won that battle precisely because of the lack of proper consultation (the actual settlement was made out of court on the day).

But it was public engagement of a different kind which kept the Dilke and Lydney hospitals within the NHS: people power.

And it seems that the very same thing has prompted the Aneurin Bevan Health Board to reverse their short-sighted policy. All credit to Action4OurCare.

As for Mr Harper 'working on this ever since I was elected', well his impact has been about as effective as his role in saving our forests. It was people power that won that battle too.

On a final point, I strongly believe the Welsh should be congratulated for keeping to the principles of the NHS.

Locally, they may have failed on this technicality with their hugely unpopular policy but their apparent willingness to reverse it shows our combined strength. Will Mr Harper's peers at Number 10 reverse their unpopular, unfair and poorly constructed policy on health any time soon? Here's hoping so.

Many readers might recall the pride with which we saw the NHS take its place alongside other great innovations in Britain like Brunel and the industrial revolution during last year's Olympic Games opening ceremony. It is Mark Harper's party who are making it policy to destroy that proud legacy.

Carl Spiby

St. Briavels