Smash The Health Bill

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Public sector union Unison and the TUC have called a candle-lit vigil outside parliament at 9.30pm on September 7th, as the Health and Social Care Bill goes through its Third Reading.

They have also called upon activists to organise protests and vigils outside hospitals across the country.

Unite the Union, London Health Worker Network, Right to Work Campaign and Keep Our NHS Public are organising a protest at St Thomas’ Hospital at 6pm in response to this call, and are supporting the candle-lit vigil at parliament that evening.

Their leaflet says: ‘Join the protests! It is vital that health workers and everyone who relies on the NHS takes to the streets to defend it.

‘The Tories plan threaten to break up our health service and hand it to private sector companies.

‘50,000 NHS jobs are being cut and front-line services are under threat.’

It adds: ‘We need to pile on the pressure to make sure the Bill is scrapped and to stop our NHS from being destroyed.

‘Changes to the Health and Social Care Bill have done nothing to address the most damaging aspects of government health plans that will break up the NHS and put profits ahead of patients.’

BMA Council member Anna Athow told News Line yesterday that protest is not enough.

Calling for action, she said: ‘The Health Bill is being crashed through parliament as the £20bn cuts are taking place, rendering thousands of staff redundant and whole hospitals being closed.

‘London alone has so called debts of half a billion, the longest waiting lists and 6,000 job losses.

‘All the health unions should co-ordinate action to keep NHS hospitals and units open and oppose, with occupations, as necessary.

‘The only way to keep the NHS as a public service is for a mass mobilisation of the trade union movement to remove this government from office.’

Bill Rogers, secretary of the North East London Council of Action, said: ‘All the protests in the world won’t stop this Bill going through parliament.

‘What’s required more than ever is the trade union leaders in the TUC to organise a fight, strike action, and our Council of Action is calling for occupations to defend hospital services against closure and redundancies.

‘To that end, we will be going to the lobby of the TUC organised by the Young Socialists on September 12 and all those struggles, whether it be the problem with unemployment, housing, education, the National Health Service, are all connected and can only be resolved by bringing down this government.

‘And that’s what the TUC must organise, a general strike.’