Protest will target health minister’s visit to Portsmouth

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CAMPAIGNERS are planning to hold a protest against changes to pensions and the NHS when a cabinet minister visits Portsmouth.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is due to officially open the St Mary’s Community Health Campus, in Milton Road, Milton, tomorrow.

The MP recently had his controversial Health and Social Care Act passed through parliament.

This was despite opposition from medical professionals, other MPs and union members.

Now a protest by union members is being planned for his trip to the city.

Jon Woods, organiser for the Portsmouth Against Cuts Together, said: ‘There are two main reasons why we are holding a protest.

‘The situation with the NHS and Health and Social Care Act is one of them.

‘Just because the bill has been passed doesn’t mean we will not carry on opposing the changes.

‘The bill threatens the privatisation of the NHS and this causes us a lot of concern.’

Mr Lansley’s visit coincides with national protests that are being held tomorrow against changes to public sector pensions. A number of unions will be taking part in the local protest.

This includes the University and College Union, Unite, Public and Commercial Services Union and the Portsmouth Pensioners Club.

‘The second reason for our protest is the ongoing cuts in the NHS and pensions,’ added Mr Woods.

‘There will be some people that are on strike and they should be coming to join the protest.

‘If there’s a cabinet minister visiting then we will push our issue forward.

‘We want to give him a clear message that we are extremely unhappy about the changes to our pensions.

‘We hope Mr Lansley does come along – if he calls off his visit then he will be running away from the people of Portsmouth.’

Mr Lansley is due to take a look around the new £18.6m campus, which has been developed on the former St Mary’s Hospital site.

Work on redeveloping the site started in 2009.

The scheme received £17.1m from the Department of Health, with NHS Portsmouth providing the remaining £1.5m.

The campus includes a maternity unit, community mental health team, physio and occupational therapy and sexual health services.