Campaigners to picket Department of Health as planned NHS reforms close to becoming law

Protestors demonstrate against the bill pic: Anna Ghislaine, flickr

Campaigners from East London will join hundreds of people expected to protest outside the Department of Health on March 17 as part of a demonstration against the controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

Campaign group Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) has called for a picket of the Department of Health from 2.30pm tomorrow, ahead of the bill reaching a final reading in the House of Lords on Monday.

Their campaign tells members of the public: “This is where all of the work for the bill was done. Let them know what you think of their work!”

The picket was organised by Mike Hart, of KONP’s Hackney branch. Hart told EastLondonLines he his hoping for big numbers as other campaign groups have joined them in response to the government bringing forward the date on which the bill will become law. “If the march is big enough, then maybe the government will become scared,” he said.

The bill will be debated in the Lords on March 19 and could receive royal assent as early as March 20.

The reforms outlined in it will restructure the NHS so that groups of doctors will take on the responsibility of commissioning health services in England, a job that is currently carried out by primary care trusts.

The bill is intended to give patients greater choice in the care they receive.

However, it has caused a nationwide backlash from groups of healthcare professionals, the Labour party and other politicians, and members of the public, who have criticised the restructuring and perceived privatisation of the NHS.

EastLondonLines ran a live report on the bill, including background information and recent events in East London, as Lords and MPs debated it on March 13.

Rachael Saunders, local councillor for Mile End East in Tower Hamlets, told EastLondonLines Labour councillors in her borough have also been involved in rallies over the previous weeks, and will hand over a petition with over 1,000 signatures to the Department of Health on Monday.

On Monday the bill will undergo its third reading in the House of Lords, but a motion will be put forward by Lord Owen to postpone the debate while peers consider whether or not to disclose the Department for Health’s risk register for the bill.

If successful, this will require Lords to consider all of the risks associated with the bill.

If the motion fails the debate will go ahead and Labour will make one final attempt to stop the bill, with a rare amendment by Baroness Thornton to decline the third reading stage based on the levels of opposition to the reforms.

Leave a Reply