OVER 400 trade unionists and supporters rallied and marched in central Manchester yesterday in opposition to the Tory ‘Devo-Manc’ plan to fragment and privatise the NHS.
The event was organised by the Greater Manchester Association of Trade Councils, which is calling for a referendum on the plan.
Addressing the rally, Annette Wright, President of Manchester Trades Council, declared: ‘This is a campaign about democracy. You should, you must have a vote about services being changed in Greater Manchester – 10.5 million people should have their say in a referendum on the issue.
‘People concerned with democracy are joining with those concerned about the NHS. We do not want an NHS in Manchester that is poorly funded.’
She concluded: ‘We want a properly funded, publicly provided, free NATIONAL Health Service.’
Penny Hicks, from the Manchester People’s Assembly, said: ‘The only way to stop the power in these people’s hands is to use our power ourselves.
‘We have a very simple demand for democracy, for a vote on such a basic change that is happening.’
A speaker from Wigan Keep Our NHS Public, said: ‘There’s no place for the market in the NHS. This fundamental change to the management of the NHS is not a good deal.
‘We demand a referendum. Bring back public ownership and accountability, reject TTIP, provide a publicly funded and accountable NHS.’
Stephen Hall, President of the Greater Manchester Association of Trades Councils, said: ‘Our concern about the document (Devo-Manc memorandum of understanding signed by Tory Chancellor Osborne and leaders of Greater Manchester Councils) is the “reform” of public services.
‘It’s about the systematic rationalisation and privatisation of all our public services. We should have a vote. We need a people’s national debate on devolution and what it might mean.’
Medical student Emma Runswick of Save Our NHS Manchester, said: ‘Apart from devolution of the responsibility and liability for the budget, there is no devolution.
‘NHS England with Simon Stevens, ex-United Health boss, will be on the board. This devolution plan is predicated on an attack on the national terms and conditions of NHS staff.
‘It means more productivity, that is more patients per nurse, reduced training and local pay.
‘They are going to close more District General Hospitals and there will be no facilities for training.’