38 Degrees stages day of action for the NHS in Durham and Teesside

A petition against the privatisation of the NHS won the support of hundreds of North people during a day of action.

Campaigners from 38 Degrees took to the streets at Durham Market Place and on Teesside to drum up support for protecting the NHS after the next election.

They are challenging parliamentary candidates to protect the NHS from privatisation.

A petition which has been signed by around 2,000 people in the area will be handed to Durham City candidates in the coming week.

And campaigners delivered a 700-strong ‘Save our NHS’ petition to Middlesbrough parliamentary candidate Andy McDonald on Saturday.

Members of the independent campaign group 38 Degrees have called on parliamentary candidates, if they are elected, to “do everything they can to protect the NHS,” from what the group describes as “funding squeezes, privatisation, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal”.

The message behind the campaign is spelled out on the 38 Degrees website which says:

“The NHS has been part of our lives for 67 years, but now it’s make or break.

“The NHS isn’t getting the cash it needs. And the government is letting money-hungry private companies carve out profits from treating the sick.”

Alan Rose, one of the campaigners, said:

“‘Our NHS has always been there for me and my family when we’ve needed it. But some politicians seem determined to break it up and sell parts off to the highest bidder.

“The thought of my family being cared for by profit-making companies really worries me. It’s not just about campaign promises to spend this or that, it’s about the fundamental values of the NHS. Could we be heading for a two-tier service based on ability to pay?

“What about the massive structural changes introduced by the Health and Social Care Act in 2012?”

He added:

“I would estimate that we collected around 400 signatures.

“We were so impressed with the number of people who were prepared to stop and talk to us in the cold and rain, because the weather really was awful on the morning.

“This petition is important because there is a great danger to the North East if there is a substantial amount of privatisation of the NHS.

“The 2012 Health and Social Care Act went a long way to dismantling the NHS.”

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, said:

“We want Durham City’s MP candidates to see that the best way to win votes is to pledge to save the NHS from privatisation and funding freezes.

“Every candidate needs to realise that cutting NHS funding, or handing it over to private companies, is a huge turn off for voters.”

‘Boro’s petition has attracted 792 signitures and was handed to Mr McDonald at the Bottle of Notes by Stella Worton, a 38 Degrees member from Middlesbrough.

David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees said:

“We’re sending a clear message to our local MP candidates – you’re being watched by hundreds us. And we all want you to protect the NHS.

“Politicians can’t sit on the fence about the NHS. If they want our votes, they need to promise to keep the NHS safe from private companies and funding freezes.

“We won’t stand for another five years of the NHS being broken up or squeezed to breaking point.

“Saturday’s petition delivery event is all about the people of Middlesbrough telling our next MPs exactly what we want for our NHS.”

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 26 Apr 2015

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