Hands off Britain's public health service say protestors

Thousands of demonstrators marched through central London to the UK parliament yesterday demanding that the government defend and not sell off the national health service for private profit.

The protest was called by an unprecedented coalition of London residents, medical staff, trade unions and health campaigners who came together to raise the alarm about what they said was the biggest threats to accident and emergency departments, maternity units and in-hospital care for a generation.

They called on the Conservative-led government of Prime Minister David Cameron to stop hospital closures and provide the funding needed for safe levels of care across the capital. 

Leading campaigner Alexander Ashman said: "The government is proposing NHS changes that are a part of the preparation for a corporate-interest US/EU Free Trade Agreement to take healthcare out of the hands of the public who pay for it."

He added: "Healthcare has been specifically mentioned as a form of trade to be included in the “harmonising regulation” agreement, which aims to prevent “future trade barriers” in keeping with the demands of transnational corporations."

"Including the NHS in such a deal will effectively turn a globally-respected universal health service into a cash cow for transnational investors. Once such a trade deal has been agreed, the resulting privatisation will be irreversible."

"We call on the government to ensure the NHS is exempted from the US/EU Free Trade Agreement as a condition of the UK’s agreeing to participate."

A petition for the campaign can be found here.


* Photography: David Mbiyu