Protesters join mass blockade against Coalition’s NHS reforms. Image ©Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

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Trade unionists and health workers have joined thousands of activists blockading Westminster bridge, in a protest against the Coalition government’s Health and Social Care bill.

Unison member, Barbara Cookson is a staff nurse from Liverpool and took part in the protest. “This bill will affect patients tremendously,” she told UnionNews.  “We are already chronically short-staffed and there won’t be any beds left.”

A spokesperson from UK Uncut, which organised the demonstration said: “the NHS is just days away from annihilation. The bill is universally unpopular with doctors and nurses and hugely damaging to patient care.  We need to say to the government that we won’t take this bill.”

The blockade comes as the the controversial NHS reforms, which include sweeping privatisation of patient care, go before the House of Lords this week.  Critics regard the bill as an ideologically-driven attempt to break up the NHS.

Activists dressed as doctors, nurses, surgeons and theatre assistants took part in the protest, with others made up as Accident and Emergency casualties. The bridge connects the Houses of Parliament with St Thomas’ Hospital, one of the largest NHS trusts in the country.

Bemused tourists looked on as demonstrators thronged onto the bridge and joined a mass “die-in” at 1pm.

Another Unison member, Sandy Nicoll is SOAS branch secretary at the University of London.  He told UnionNews: “We are very dangerously sleepwalking into the death of the NHS.  Every trade unionist should be on these protests and we should make as much noise as we can before we wake up and find the NHS is gone.”


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