The Hackney and Lewisham factions of the campaign group Keep Our NHS Public have been busy drumming up support for a ‘March To Save The NHS’ starting from University College Hospital in Euston.
Hackney GP Dr Anne Solomon told East London Lines:
The march is a great opportunity for Hackney people, be they health care workers (quite a few doctors will be there), patients and any other interested parties to demonstrate their opposition to these disasterous plans which spell the end of the NHS.
The aim is to fight proposals to hand GPs control over much of the health budget and open the service up to greater competition.
The Hackney arm of the Keep Our NHS Public group argues the Government is forcing City & Hackney Primary Care trust, which funds all GP surgeries in Hackney, to sell off local doctors’ surgeries to private health care companies.
It claims: “The first interest of these big private companies is in making money for their shareholders, not in caring for patients.
“Three Hackney GP surgeries have already been sold off to the private sector. Now the Primary Care Trust is offering to sell two new GP-led health centres to these big private companies.
“There are lots of dedicated doctors in Hackney who are committed to providing the best service possible for the people of Hackney – but they have to compete against the big private companies to run the new centres.”
A publicity poster for the 'March To Save The NHS'
Other critics of the proposals, including the British Medical Association, have argued that it would be better to withdraw this bill and produce an entirely new one.
In April, the government accepted it needed to do more to convince the public the changes would be beneficial and began a “listening exercise”.
After discussions involving NHS staff and patients, ministers have promised “substantial changes” to the proposals outlined in the health bill.
The March To Save The NHS will assemble at University College Hospital on Gower Street in Euston at 5.30pm and begin marching to the Department of Health at 6pm.
A leaflet produced by the membership of Hackney BMA claims that coalition government reforms will mean:
All GPs are already being forced into large groups called ‘consortiums’. They will be handed most of the NHS budget (£80 billion) to ‘buy’ health care for their patients, but have no public accountability. All hospitals must become independent businesses (called ‘Foundation Trusts’) competing to sell their services to the consortiums. Private health companies will be encouraged to bid against hospitals for consortium contracts. A massive £20 billion is being cut from the NHS at the same time.
The leaflet says:
This legislation will create a two tier American-type health system where those who can afford it top-up with private health care whilst the poor and sick receive second rate treatment in a fragmented and shrunken public system.