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Fears for nurses as 2,000 gather to fight health bill


Over 2,000 NHS staff and campaigners heard health service leaders, including key nursing figures, denounce the health bill at a rally in Westminster last night.

Attendees heard shadow health secretary Andy Burnham pledge to use Opposition parliamentary time on Tuesday next week to call a new Commons debate and vote offering a “final chance” to reject the bill.

Mr Burnham admitted it was possible the bill would pass. He said: “If I’m health secretary after election I’ll put the ‘N’ back in the NHS. I will repeal this bill.”

But the TUC-organised event at Westminster Central Hall, which constituted one of the largest displays of public feeling about changes to the health service in recent decades, largely belonged to NHS employees and their representatives.

Peter Carter, general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, raised fears that nurses would end up “trying to hold together” the system if the reform proposals were passed by parliament.

“I predict if this bill gets royal assent, within four years there will be another reorganisation of the sort that we’ve seen time and time again,” he said.

“We keep hearing that the NHS needs fixing. But I’ve got news for people in Westminster – the NHS isn’t broken but the way things are going it soon will be broken unless we stop this bill.”

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, had to contend with a protestor demanding a general strike.

However, when she was finally able to speak, she said that the current baby boom was placing the service under too much pressure to cope with reorganisation.

“We are being required to keep up with these massive pressures and the unnecessary bureaucratic distraction of the reforms proposed in this bill is too much,” she said.

British Medical Association chairman Hamish Meldrum, said the body was “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow health workers in support of the NHS”.

Amid much cheering, Dr Meldrum said: “This bill was supposed to be about listening to doctors, nurses and patients. Mr Lansley are you listening?”

Crossbench peer Lord Owen compared the mandate for the current reforms with that for the creation of the NHS in 1948.

“Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan, they had an overwhelming mandate to introduce that legislation,” he said. “Can anyone say that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have an overwhelming mandate for the [health] bill?

What they said at the rally

Clive Peedell, consultant oncologist: “I ran from Cardiff to London because I’m bloody angry about this bill.’

Iain Bell, psychiatric nurse: “Are GPs best placed to make decisions about those with mental illness who often don’t trust them?”

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary: “I’ve angered people lately by raising some issues about the Olympics. I hope people get as angry about the NHS”

Dorothy Matebeni, South African nurse leader: “We’ve seen that the NHS works for the people in the UK so it will work for us [in South Africa, which is creating its own health service]. Viva the NHS.”

Jo Brand, comedian and ex-psychiatric nurse: “I’ve a soft spot for Nick Clegg. It’s face down in a bowl of custard”

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary: “GPs will pass the money on to KPMG and American multinationals like United Healthcare.”


Readers' comments (7)

  • I'm only pleased to hear there are still 2000 nurses left in th NHS. It wont belong before they're all working for The Spire if the present government continue to ruin whats left of this second rate country. It is now only fit for foreigners, namely, muslims, paedophiles, criminals - oh alright, MPs to live in from now on.

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  • Whilst I'm at it, re:- "Teaching injection technique will improve quality of life" with the idea of supporting people with diabetes to manage their injectable therapies in the best way.... this is as a 'Post Grad. student nurse, way back in the 1970's. Are you trying to tell us nurse training is currently 'up to date, or what?

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  • Apologies for my first entry... you just can't trust computor technology, can you?
    What meant to write is:-

    Whilst I'm at it, re:- "Teaching injection technique will improve quality of life" with the idea of supporting people with diabetes to manage their injectable therapies in the best way.... this is a skill I was teaching diabetic patients to do, when I was working as a 'Post Grad. student nurse, way back in the 1970's. Are you trying to tell us nurse training is currently 'up to date, or what?

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  • Further more... there are million of our tax payers money being given away as 'subsidies to 'regitered farmers' even if they dont actual run a farm.. reported on TV recently, The spokesman involved agreed with, an said, he was going to look into the 'loophole'. Bless him.
    More of our mi££ions are being 'sent as aide' in India. Their spokesman reportedly said, they don't need or want, as they are becoming more prosperous now. Our minister said... well it is good for them and beneficial for the UK. Oh Yeh? Who else is feeding of it... probably an obese diplomat and his offspring in the UK embassy over there, I suspect.
    Cameron said he will listen to the country, well, listen hear mate, stop delving into our tax for all your expenses, foreign aide, susidies to farmers who don't farm. Reduce the tax you've placed on fuel, so we pay a realistic price to run our cars. Stop getting involved in other countries battles, and bring our servicemen home now, alive and inb one piece. You said you will listen... well lets see how you respond. Any savings you make can be added to the NHS coffers to save lives, instead of squandering it away.

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  • tinkerbell

    Pack your bags Nick Clegg, you're outta here. Ha Ha. Well done lib dems, you voted at last to oppose this demonic bill and redeemed yourselves. HURRAY!

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  • One vote does NOT redeem the Lib Dems.

    I hope others take this view and that they are annihilated at the next election.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Mar-2012 9:58 am

    Yes because it will either be their annihilation or ours.

    I'd like to strap them all together, Lansley, Clegg and Cameron and make them walk the plank whilst Peter (Pan) pushes them forward with his sword, aheckling them all the way (in pirates voice - them that dies ull be the lucky ones!). Could be next seasons Christmas Panto theme.

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