Hot air balloonist Richard Branson could be providing even more healthcare in leafy Surrey, if local MP and health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s plans to privatise the NHS are not grounded.
To highlight the accelerating pace of NHS privatisation, more than 200 Unite activists and health professionals will be descending on Farnham, in the heart of Jeremy Hunt’s South West Surrey constituency on Saturday 15 June.
The activists from various London campaigns to save NHS services in the capital will be going door-to-door canvassing local people about the threat of a privatised NHS; handing out leaflets in the town centre; and then holding a rally outside the Farnham Conservative club in Ivy Lane.
Some demonstrators will be dressed in bio-medical suits to drive home the point that Jeremy Hunt is ‘a hazard to public health’.
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said: “We are taking the argument that the NHS should not be sold off to private companies - which put shareholder profit before patient care - to the heart of Jeremy Hunt’s constituency.
“If the voters of South West Surrey think they are immune from the NHS being gobbled up by private interests, it needs to be highlighted that Virgin Care, partly owned by Richard Branson, has signed a £500 million, five-year contract to run a wide variety of community health services in Surrey.”
The transfer of the main services at Haslemere & District Community Hospital from Surrey Community Health to Virgin Care last year has caused concerned with the Haslemere & District Community Hospital League of Friends. Its newsletter said: “The remoteness of the hospital’s new nominal owners from the community it serves is a continuing source of concern to the league.”
Rachael Maskell is also worried that the health secretary was masterminding the closure of A&E units and other services in London and across England as part of the privatisation process enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act.
She said: “If St Helier’s accident and emergency unit in Sutton is closed, patients will use the Royal Surrey hospital in Guildford, with adverse knock-on effects for those living in his South West Surrey constituency.
“I hope to be able to speak to Jeremy Hunt on 15 June to ask him to reverse his policies that are bringing the world-class NHS to its knees.”
Details on the Hunt for Hunt
The Haslemere & District Community Hospital League of Friends newsletter
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or Unite NHS campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146777
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.