Transform the banks and save the NHS, say protesters

By staff writers
29 May 2011

NHS Direct Action and UK Uncut activists dressed in medical scrubs have staged a protest outside HSBC's AGM over the bank's NHS profiteering.

The demonstration took place on the morning of Friday 27 May 2011, as part of a series of nonviolent direct action initiatives to highlight the gap between rhetoric and reality in the government's policies - and the way the wealthy are being 'rescued' from national debt at the expense of the poor and ordinary people.

A recent BBC investigation found that HSBC used a tax loophole to divert millions of pounds of NHS money into a Guernsey 'tax haven', says UK Uncut.

In 2010, a company set up by HSBC made more than £38 million from its 33 PFI hospital-building schemes and paid £100,000 in UK tax - less than half of one per cent of the profits.

Describing such practices as "scandalous", former Oxford MP Dr Evan Harris has called for new rules to stop NHS money being sent to tax havens.

Stuart Gulliver, the new chief executive of HSBC, recently received a bonus of £9 million - which could pay for the annual salary of over 400 nurses, say campaigners.

The protest came the day before UK Uncut and NHS Direct Action held their first full day of action over the government's proposed NHS cuts.

Over 40 groups around the country tried to turn banks into hospitals to highlight alternatives to cuts that could result in 50,000 NHS staff losing their jobs.

Marion Davies, a medical student, said: "HSBC are making millions in profit from NHS hospitals and their use of tax havens is a scandal that must end. Doctors and nurses are the ones who deserve a bonus - not the bankers that caused the financial crisis.".

NHS Direct Action is a protest group of students, health workers and patients organising creative direct actions against the privatisation of the NHS. Companies and think-tanks such as Care UK and the Policy Exchange have been previously targeted with auctions, 'die-ins' and impromptu occupations. (http://www.nhsdirectaction.co.uk/)

UK Uncut have creatively occupied hundreds of banks and retail shops belonging to tax-avoiding corporations over the last eight months. It is a direct action network with a national reach, and 30,000 followers on twitter. (http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/)

[Ekk/3]

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