Former health chief Andy Burnham to join thousands of demonstrators at Manchester NHS cuts rally

By Ana Hine

Thousands of angry demonstrators will descend on Manchester next week to rally against NHS cuts with support from Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

Around 30,000 people are expected to attend that rally on September 29 organised by the Trade Union Congress to raise awareness of NHS cuts and privatisation, with the Labour MP for Leigh speaking on the first day of the annual Conservative Party Conference.

The impact of job losses and spending cuts across the health service will be a main topic for protesters and speakers.

NHS statistics released in July showed that nurse numbers were cut by 4,893 in England since May 2010.

Mr Burnham wrote on his blog: “It is clear that the NHS simply cannot continue to take nursing cuts on this scale and maintain standards of patient care.

“David Cameron must urgently intervene to ensure safe staffing levels in our hospitals. These dangerous cuts show that you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS.” 

Also on the agenda is an effort to highlight the practice of selling-off portions of the NHS to private healthcare companies, including many who act as Conservative Party donors.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said: “This September’s march and rally will allow thousands of ordinary people to show the government exactly what they think of their policies.

“Austerity is having a devastating effect on our communities and services, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the last three months alone.

“The NHS is one of Britain’s finest achievements and we will not allow ministers to destroy, through cuts and privatisation, what has taken generations to build.”

At the conference, Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, will be talking about hospital management on Tuesday afternoon. The Campaign for Dignity in Dying will also be hosting a fringe meeting on the topic of assisted dying.

The Shadow Health Secretary will speak around 2pm in Whitworth Park after the march, which will begin at 11am on Liverpool Road, has made its way – via Oxford Road – to the park.   

Event organiser Lynn Collins, TUC North West Regional Secretary, said: “Our NHS is under attack and we want to send the strongest message to the Conservatives that we will not stand by and let them sell-off our national treasure.

“But it’s not just our health service under attack. Workers in the North West and beyond have had enough of a government that cuts, whether it be jobs, services or wages. That’s why we are taking to the streets on September 29.”

Picture courtesy of London Permaculture via Flickr, with thanks.

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