Celebrities and health workers will band together on November 22 to demand that members of parliament oppose the Health and Care Bill, which the government is trying to push through despite numerous warnings that it will be disastrous for the NHS and social care services.
Unite which represents over 100,000 health workers across all occupations and professional groups, is committed to leading the campaign to oppose the bill. It warns there are now just two weeks to save the NHS from the dreadful effects of this bill.
The union is working alongside campaign organisations Health Campaigns Together, the newly formed Your NHS Needs You and stars including Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, Russell Brand, Francesca Martinez and Michael Rosen.
Unite has called a protest on the eve of the vote, two weeks today. It warns the bill, which will be debated in the House of Commons on November 22 and 23 ahead of its third reading, will slash funding and result in more privatisation, more cuts and more cronyism. There will be even more contracts awarded to private companies without scrutiny, at the expense of service levels and our health.
It represents a dangerous assault on accountability and professional standards and, without adequate protection of staff terms and conditions, the current staffing crisis will get worse.
The campaign against the bill has already seen protests outside parliament, and celebrity social media video messages have reached millions of people in the last week alone.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Our members in the NHS and social care are coping with unacceptable conditions. Staffing levels are dangerously low, waiting lists are at unprecedented highs, and morale is rock bottom. Ministers want to impose real-terms pay cuts.
“The Health and Care Bill is being used to further run down the NHS and to bring in more privatisation by the back door. It will also lay the path for lower standards of care and further attacks on the pay and conditions of NHS staff,” she noted.
“We will ramp up resources to defend our health sector members and oppose these unnecessary attacks.”
Stephen Fry, from the Your NHS Needs You campaign, added, “I’ve seen what a nightmare healthcare is – if you can call it that – in America. A real nightmare! And the idea of that infecting our NHS is like the idea of a new pandemic, frankly.
“That kind of infection would destroy and compromise the health service we’ve grown to depend on and love, and to be incredibly proud of. Research shows that American corporations are already embedding themselves in our NHS. And this is a really dangerous, and a very, very worrying turn of events.”
The lobby will take place at 5pm on November 22 at Richmond Terrace, Westminster.
By Jennie Walsh