As the D-Day for the massive overhaul of our health services looms closer, Greater Manchester pressure groups have announced they will be taking their fight onto the media's doorstep to warn the public about the attempted destruction of the NHS as we know it.
Greater Manchester's Keep Our NHS Public (KONP), Greater Manchester Trades Union Council (GMATUC) and Greater Manchester Against Cuts will march to the belly of Media City, outside the BBC Dock and Quays Houses on 2nd April and hold a demonstration.
Campaigners will stage a street theatre action alongside a choir to get the message to the public about how the privatisation, marketization and cuts could effect them after major parts of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act are introduced the day before.
The introduction of the Act comes on top of the £20bn of national cuts that will be inflicted upon services, staff and patients in 2013-14 and hitting Greater Manchester hard (see previous articles - click here and click here), the worries over increased prevalence of Private Finance Initiatives in the NHS and the privatisation of the Greater Manchester Patient Transport ambulance
Amongst the Act's controversial measures is the potentially disastrous impact of the establishment of Clinical Commissioning Groups which, from April, will take charge of controlling health budgets and commissioning services such as emergency care, community and health in local areas.
It also includes the Government's push for all NHS trusts to become decentralised foundation trusts - which has come under attack for shooing in potential inequalities in services throughout the country. Under the Bill there will be no longer be a cap on the amount of private patient income or borrowing trusts acquire, and they will have greater flexibility on pay rates. Those struggling with finances would be allowed to sell off part of their trust if they default on debt repayments.
The groups also want to place the spotlight on the Government decision to try sell-off the NHS state-owned plasma supplier, which is used to treat patients suffering from major traumas, haemophilia, burns and neurological conditions.
Organisers of the demonstration have called on members of the public to come to the rally to show that the fight to get the Government to scrap the Act and reverse the attacks on the NHS is in many ways only just beginning.
"If we don't keep pressure on the government then the NHS as we know it will just disappear" says Stephan Hall, president of GMATUC "We'll end up with an American style system in its place that will be based on ability to pay. Obviously the grim reality of such a system is that it will just lead to people dying unnecessarily.
"It's not at all too late to save the NHS" he adds "but to be successful we need everyone to pull together in opposition to the changes."
Keep Our NHS Public
Tuesday 2nd April
March from Cornbrook Metrolink 7:30am
Protest at MediaCity UK 8am
More details of how to join the demo can be found on the facebook event here: http://www.facebook.com/events/167913956692590/
Words by Chloe Glover