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Campaigners take fight against NHS privatisation to Manchester

Tuesday, 01 October 2013 10:46
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Press Release 01/10/2013
Campaigners take fight against NHS privatisation to Manchester
Members of Stroud Against the Cuts and other local groups joined a national demonstration outside The Conservative Party’s annual conference on Sunday.
Summary: On Sunday 29th September, more than 50,000 people marched through Manchester.
Among them were around 70 people from Gloucestershire, who travelled on coaches organised by Stroud Against the Cuts and the Gloucestershire branch of Unite Community, and by Unite the Union. Having successfully defended Gloucestershire’s community health services from privatisation last year, campaigners said they attended the march to “send a clear message to the Conservative Party that privatisation of the NHS is unacceptable and will be resisted at every opportunity.” Healthworkers, and members of Unison and Unite, and other trade unions were present, as well members of 38degrees Gloucestershire, Cheltenham and Gloucester Against Cuts and Forest of Dean Against Cuts, and concerned members of the public.
On a sunny September Sunday, thousands of people marched through the streets of Manchester [1] – passing the site of the Conservative Party Conference, which concludes on Wednesday 02/10/2013 [2]. Greater Manchester Police. Greater Manchester Police estimated 50,000 attended the protest and said it was “One of the largest ever policed by GMP” [3]. While organisers claimed as many as 75,000 took part. Many carried placards saying “NHS not Trident”, a reference to the policy of ‘efficiency savings’ in the NHS and the cost of replacing the UK’s Nuclear weapons system.
James Beecher, one of Stroud Against the Cuts’ co-ordinators said: “The government says it has ringfenced funding on the NHS, and claims it is increasing year-on-year – but with the population and healthcare needs rising, and more than £3 billion wasted on an unnecessary top-down re-organisation, budgets are creaking and care is suffering as a result, as we see with the downgrading of A&E at Cheltenham General Hospital [4]. Following the Health and Social Care Act, private companies are increasingly taking over the management of services – with Arriva taking over non-emergency ambulances locally for instance [5] – diverting money from patient care to shareholder pockets”
Caroline Molloy, another of Stroud Against the Cuts’ co-ordinators said: “Everyone is very fired up and we have been talking to people about what we’ve been doing in Gloucestershire, fighting privitisation in the NHS. It seems others are facing similar problems”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Austerity is having a devastating effect on our communities and services, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the last three months alone. The NHS is one of Britain’s finest achievements and we will not allow ministers to destroy, through cuts and privatisation, what has taken generations to build.’
Under the title “Save Our NHS: Defend Jobs and Services – No to Austerity” the march was not only about health services. Protesters from campaigns against the Bedroom Tax, Atos’ much-criticised ‘fit-for-work’ tests, and cuts to libraries and pensions were also part of the march – as well as campaigners against fracking and a large contingent opposing the badger cull.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 11:03