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Nurses to rally in Westminster against Health Bill


Opponents of the government’s controversial health reforms will today warn ministers that the changes represent the “biggest threat” the NHS has ever seen.

Thousands of nurses, midwives, doctors, physiotherapists, cleaners, porters and other NHS workers will attend a rally in Westminster in a last-ditch attempt to scupper the Health and Social Care Bill.

Are you unable to make tonight’s NHS rally? Join our online rally, and add your voice to the comments below.

A psychiatric nurse, speech therapist, paramedic and pregnant mother will join union leaders and politicians in making speeches at the rally, as well as comedian Jo Brand, who once worked as a psychiatric nurse.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber will say: “The All Together for the NHS campaign is an unprecedented alliance of unions, royal colleges, professional groups, health service staff, patients and members of the public. Together we are speaking up for a publicly-accountable health service, for the values that make our NHS special and for the ethos of public service itself.

“The government’s Bill represents the biggest threat our NHS has ever seen. It will mean £3 billion spent on change instead of care, NHS patients pushed to the back of the queue by those with fatter chequebooks, and a postcode lottery of provision.

“The Bill will also mean privatisation on a huge scale, with our health service opened up to competition by any willing provider. Private firms will profit by cherry-picking the easiest, most lucrative work - leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab for everything else. That is simply not acceptable.

“This is a Bill that is wrong for patients, wrong for the public, and wrong for Britain. Virtually nobody wants these reforms, almost nobody supports them, and certainly nobody voted for them.”

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Introducing competition into the NHS will usher in private companies. They will put profit before patients. Where you have competition you have winners and losers and it will mean that patients are hit as some hospitals close. Taking the cap off the number of private patients that can be treated by a hospital means that those who can pay will go to the front of the queue. NHS patients will face growing waiting lists.

“The royal colleges don’t want the Bill, the GPs and health workers don’t want it and nor do the public. The government ignores the groundswell of opposition at its peril. Voters will never forgive, or forget the party that ruins our NHS.”

Other speakers at the rally will include Labour’s health spokesman Andy Burnham, crossbench peer Lord Owen, whose amendment narrowly failed in its bid to get the Bill studied by a special select committee, Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum, Unite leader Len McCluskey and Royal College of Midwives general secretary Cathy Warwick.

You can read our webchat about the rally here.

News editor of Health Service Journal and Nursing Times @NickGolding will be tweeting live from the rally tonight, follow him for up-to-the-minute coverage.



Readers' comments (22)

  • tinkerbell

    tinkerbell | 7-Mar-2012 11:14 am

    off on my travels to the NHS Rally today. Hope to see lots of nurses there representing our concerns, won't be holding my breath though after the abysmal results of the RCN ballot but ever the optimist. Weather kind of reflecting how i feel, wet and windy but onwards and upwards. Wishing us all the best of luck in our endeavours to get the message out there for OUR NHS and the future of our society. When it's gone, it's gone

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  • I read a bill in Parliament that will require individual's amount, thus cost of care to be reported to the Home Secretary.
    I am pro-life and therefore could see the benefit of taking "health care" such as this out of the realm of government entitlement.
    There will have to be other tiers of care coverage that is provided in the US for instance to low income people i.e. Medicaid.

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  • tinkerbell

    Rita Lawrence | 7-Mar-2012 11:25 am

    no doubt with reams of paperwork to be completed before you receive any treatment to ensure that you qualify, hoping that before you get a chance to claim you are too ill to bother and totter off quietly. A 2 tier health service at its best.

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  • nadine woogara

    We're chatting LIVE at 1pm on the homepage about tonight's rally - come and join us!

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  • compare the cost of the care of one particular patient with the expenses of an MP!

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  • tinkerbell

    Just got back from the NHS Rally. Great turn out. Great time. Need to warm up a bit though and catch up tomorrow.

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  • tinkerbell

    Above is a good summary of the NHS Raly.

    There was a young paramedic who got up. He said 'I have never been political before, never protested and never given a public speech, I am up here having a cardiac arrest because I want to save OUR NHS'.

    Well done.l

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  • Very strange.

    There is no mention in the DT, a British National Newspaper, this morning at all, about the Rally even thought they are usually prolific on the anti NHS bill campaign.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 8-Mar-2012 10:18 am

    Strange also that there was no coverage on BBC and wondering if BBC were prevented by the government from exposing the depth of public opinion, nursing opinion, doctors opinion and basically everyones opinion because they don't want people to know.

    Apparently on another website it was alleged that Jeremy Paxman wanted to do a piece on Newsnight on the rally and was prevented. If so what depths are this morally bankrupt, unelected government prepared to go to to destroy OUR NHS and have their way. They appear to be prepared to dig deep into the sewers of lying, wheeling, dealing, cheating to get their devious, destructive way.

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  • tinkerbell

    What hypocrites when they have no code of conduct amongst themselves.

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