Celebrities and health workers will band together on 22 November to demand that members of parliament oppose the Health and Care Bill, which the government is trying to push through despite numerous warnings that it will be disastrous for the NHS and social care services.

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s leading union, which represents over 100,000 health workers across all occupations and professional groups, is committed to leading the campaign to oppose the bill. It warns there are now just two weeks to save the NHS from the dreadful effects of this bill.

The union is working alongside campaign organisations Health Campaigns Together, the newly formed Your NHS Needs You and stars including Stephen Fry, Jo Brand, Russell Brand, Francesca Martinez and Michael Rosen.

Unite has called a protest outside parliament on the eve of the vote, two weeks today. It warns the bill, which will be debated in the House of Commons on 22 and 23 November ahead of its third reading, will slash funding and result in more privatisation, more cuts and more cronyism. There will be even more contracts awarded to private companies without scrutiny, at the expense of service levels and our health.

It represents a dangerous assault on accountability and professional standards and, without adequate protection of staff terms and conditions, the current staffing crisis will get worse.

The campaign against the bill has already seen protests outside parliament, and celebrity social media video messages have reached millions of people in the last week alone.

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.”

Stephen Fry, from the Your NHS Needs You campaign, added:

“I’ve seen what a nightmare healthcare is – if you can call it that – in America. A real nightmare! And the idea of that infecting our NHS is like the idea of a new pandemic, frankly.

“That kind of infection would destroy and compromise the health service we’ve grown to depend on and love, and to be incredibly proud of. Research shows that American corporations are already embedding themselves in our NHS. And this is a really dangerous, and a very, very worrying turn of events.”


Notes to editors:

The lobby will take place at 5pm on 22 November at Richmond Terrace, Westminster.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest crises that the NHS has ever faced, made worse by 10 years of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation that has left the service in a critical condition. Staff morale is at an all-time low and the impact of the Bill breaking the NHS up into 42 different areas will have a widely negative impact, including on local authorities and social care providers

This Bill does nothing to address the severe concerns in our health and care service with the NHS waiting list in England hitting a record high of 5.45m (BBC, 12 August 2021) and a major shortage of nearly 84,000 full time equivalent staff including 37,000 nurses (1 in 10 of all nurse roles) (King’s Fund Feb 2021).

By June 2021, the UK government had awarded £37.9 bn worth of contracts related to the coronavirus crisis to private companies. The vast majority of these contracts have been awarded without a competitive tender. This Bill makes the awarding of such contracts easier, with even less scrutiny.

The Bill consolidates and greatly expands the stealth privatisation of the English NHS, handing more power to private corporations and restricting patient access to treatment.

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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