PROTESTERS will take to the streets of Southampton today to argue against private companies being involved in the NHS.
Members of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public Southampton will be protesting at Trump Bridge, Portland Terrace and Bargate Street on Saturday.
The action comes as the Health and Care Act is set to come into effect on July 1, splitting the NHS across England into 42 new bodies called Integrated Care Systems (ICS).
But now concerns have been raised that private businesses will have a role on the board that will oversee health care in Southampton.
Campaigners will be speaking to the public at the weekend in a bid to put pressure on Lena Samuels, the new chair of the ICS board to ban private companies from making decisions in the local NHS.
Helen Field, a member of group, said: “The pandemic has shown us just how much we need our NHS.
"It has also shown us that all that private companies care about is extracting as much profits from it as possible without adding value.
“We saw how triumphantly the vaccination drive that the NHS ran went, whereas the Test and Trace programme run privately by Serco and Sitel was feckless and ineffectual.
“This shows that the changes that are coming into our NHS from the 1st of July should be used as an opportunity to rebuild capacity within our local NHS, so that we don’t ever have to go to private companies.”
The protest is part of a national day of action organised by We Own It and supported by Keep Our NHS Public and Unite Community.
Johnbosco Nwogbo, Lead Campaigner at We Own It, said: “Opening the boardroom doors to private companies who could stand to benefit financially from decisions made by the board about the healthcare available to people in Southampton looks bad and smells bad.
“These changes to the NHS will not be to the benefit of ordinary users, many of whom can hardly get appointments with their doctor as it is.
“There is no doubt that they will benefit private companies whose primary goal is to extract profit from already skint NHS budgets. NHS leaders must commit not to allow private companies to continue to have a role in our local NHS bodies."
A message from the Editor
Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.
Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.
You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.
Don't take my word for it - subscribe here to see for yourself.
Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by joining our Facebook group - Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents