Pressure group meets Portsmouth MP to protest against privatisation of NHS

PROTEST Claire Davies, member of 38 Degrees, handing over the Save Our NHS petition to Mike Hancock with other members and residents.     Picture: Sarah Standing (112021-8056)
PROTEST Claire Davies, member of 38 Degrees, handing over the Save Our NHS petition to Mike Hancock with other members and residents. Picture: Sarah Standing (112021-8056)

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PORTSMOUTH campaigners are urging an MP to help block any drastic reforms to the National Heath Service.

Members of the local branch of 38 Degrees, a group which opposes the planned changes, met Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock, to hand in a national petition.

Around 420,000 signatures have been collected, opposing health secretary Andrew Lansley’s NHS shake-up.

The plans involve a government bill, which would make it easier for private health firms to bid for NHS work.

Claire Davies, of Bath Road, Southsea, is a member of 38 Degrees, named after the angle of a slope at which rocks form an avalanche.

The 38-year-old said: ‘There are more than 420,000 people who have contributed to an online petition and we’re presenting them to our MP like other people are nationally.

‘People are extremely worried about the proposals to change the fundamentals of the NHS.

‘The government has a duty to care for people, and at the moment it’s free at the point of care.

‘We don’t want to see the NHS become a profit-making organisation.

‘We don’t want private companies making profits off people’s illness or cherry-picking who can get treatment.

‘At the moment people working for the NHS really have a duty to the people, and not to make profit.’

Around 20 members of 38 Degrees met outside Mr Hancock’s office in Albert Road, Southsea, on Saturday morning to hand in the petition.

Kevin Borrett, 39, a Unite union representative, said: ‘There are big moves being planned and services are going to be affected.

‘It’s understandable that the NHS is being looked at.

‘There’s nothing wrong with looking at how a service is run.

‘But to make such aggressive changes is not helpful at all.’

Portsmouth South MP Mr Hancock, who opposes the bill, said he was delighted people are taking the time to campaign.

He said: ‘I chaired the bill and I was against the bill then and I’m against it now.

‘No organisation is perfect and for a long time the NHS has had imperfections. We only have to look at our own hospital.

‘We need to have changes, but things need to be transparent.

‘A majority of people believe health care should be provided by the state.

‘The stakeholders of the NHS need to have confidence that changes will not diminish the quality and provision of the heath service.

‘I don’t want to see a two-tier private and NHS set up. I want it as an entity.

‘Private care should only be used when the public service cannot deliver.’