A huge protest against the “dismantling” of the NHS is to be held outside the Conservative Party’s annual conference in the autumn by the country’s biggest trade unions.
Unison, Unite and the GMB will organise the protest in Manchester on September 29, saying they wanted to highlight growing concern about government policies.
They warn that private health firms from this country and the United States are increasingly winning contracts in the health service under unpopular reforms.
Officials said universal healthcare could disappear in its present form by 2015 unless the sell-off process is halted.
Concerns were also expressed about the impact of mounting job losses, £20 billion of spending cuts and the “crisis” in accident and emergency units.
Unison leader Dave Prentis, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and Paul Kenny of the GMB said in a joint statement: “If this government felt that its Health and Social Care Act last year would be the last word in the debate on the future of the NHS, then ministers are sorely wrong.
“The people of this country do not want a health service run by the same global boardrooms that have brought misery to every other public service, such as the energy industry.
“We pay for the NHS to be different, to serve the public and to ward off the twin fears of illness and poverty. There is simply no place in our health service for business to profit from the misfortunes of others. This is the message that will ring around Manchester on September 29.”
The unions also called on Labour to commit to repealing the Health and Social Care Act, which they believe would be a warning to private companies not to bid for contracts.
Mr Prentis, speaking at Unison’s national conference in Liverpool, said the Manchester rally will be a “major” event, attended by huge numbers of members of the public as well as union members.
Demonstrations will be held across the country, culminating with a “massive” protest next year, to highlight the effect of spending cuts and austerity measures.
Labour will also be pressed to agree to support union demands for a halt to privatisation of public services.
“We want to know by next year what Labour’s plans are, and we have made it clear we will not support a Labour government that does nothing about the NHS, does not invest in public services or restore workers’ rights.”
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