Celebrities and health workers will rally near Parliament this evening to demand that MPs oppose the Health and Care Bill, which is being debated in the House of Commons ahead of its third reading.

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s leading union, which represents over 100,000 health workers across all occupations and professional groups, is leading the campaign to oppose the bill, working alongside campaign organisations including Health Campaigns Together and the newly formed Your NHS Needs You, as well as with stars Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, David Tennant, Vicky McClure, Frankie Boyle and others.

The comedian Francesca Martinez will be among the speakers at the event in Richmond Terrace. Others include Dr Bob Gill of Your NHS Needs You, Tony O’Sullivan of Keep Our NHS Public, Dr Louise Irvine of Health Campaigns Together, Catt Hobbs of We Own It, Holly Turner of NHS Workers Say NO and Jacky Davis of the BMA Council.

MPs Grahame Morris, Margaret Greenwood, Barry Gardiner, Jeremy Corbyn, Imran Hussain and Richard Burgon will also address the demonstration.

Unite warns that the bill, dubbed the Privatisation Bill, will be disastrous for the NHS and social care services. Its provisions will slash funding and lead to increased cuts and cronyism, with even more contracts awarded to private companies without scrutiny, at the expense of service levels.

The union, which represents over 100,000 health service workers, also fears that, without adequate protection of staff terms and conditions, the current staffing crisis will get worse.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members in the NHS and social care are coping with unacceptable conditions. Staffing levels are dangerously low, waiting lists are at unprecedented highs, and morale is rock bottom. Ministers want to impose real-terms pay cuts.

"The Health and Care Bill is being used to further run down the NHS and to bring in more privatisation by the back door. It will also lay the path for lower standards of care and further attacks on the pay and conditions of NHS staff.

"We will ramp up resources to defend our health sector members and oppose these unnecessary attacks.”

Jacalyn Williams, national officer for health at Unite said: 

"The government’s new Health and Care Bill is a Trojan horse for more cuts and cronyism and is a licence for politicians to run down and sell off our NHS.

"Attempting to drive this through while we are still in the middle of a pandemic and without a care for patients, or staff already stretched beyond their limits, is a disgrace. Unite is opposed to this NHS Privatisation Bill and is leading a serious and effective campaign to ensure it is stopped.

"The hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions opposing the bill, from a range of campaigning organisations representing both health service patients and workers, shows how committed we all are to opposing these plans that will give our NHS to profiteers at the expense of us all.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

The rally takes place from 5pm on 22 November at Richmond Terrace, Whitehall.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior strategic communications officer Jennie Walsh on 07958 514695

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham. 

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