This Saturday (21 September) County Hall in Durham will play host to the NHS Built to Care conference and rally – organised by the Northern Public Services Alliance – which brings together unions, medical professionals, service users and local MPs.
"The NHS was built to care for Britain and is one of the things that makes the UK great", the Alliance says. "As the NHS turns sixty-five, there is a fight to expose the cuts and privatisation that threaten to break it up. The Northern Public Services Alliance is raising awareness of the impact the government's policies are having on the NHS and are likely to have on health in the region."
Since April, 80 per cent of contracts have gone to the private sector, taking £2.5 billion out of the NHS budget in just four months. The conference will be a chance for people to find out more and have their say in shaping the next steps of the campaign to defend the NHS from increasing privatisation and fragmentation.
Clare Williams, Chair of the Northern Public Services Alliance, said: "Some government MPs might be under the impression that the controversy over the Health and Social Care Act has gone away, or will soon be forgotten. In fact the nightmare of what the government is doing to our NHS has only just begun.
"We're meeting in Durham to hear the very latest from frontline health workers and patient campaigners on how privatisation, cuts and attacks are harming the NHS.
"Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs had no mandate to fragment and privatise our health service. The Northern Public Services Alliance will be doing everything possible to inform and involve voters, hold the government to account and defend the NHS locally, regionally and, with others, nationally."
Grahame Morris, the MP for Easington who will be speaking at the event said, "Recent figures show that over the last three months alone, 21,000 jobs have been lost in the NHS, to the detriment of vital frontline services. The North East already has many of the worst health indicators and lowest life expectancies in the whole country and as services continue to be cut or sold, these dreadful health inequalities will continue to grow.
"We deserve better than this. The NHS is an institution based on equality of access – free at the point of need, and there are very few of us who have not needed it at some point."
He concluded, "No matter how much money there is to be made by the private healthcare sector, the government simply cannot afford to put profit before patients."