Campaign to save NHS

Volunteer Christine Hoare and Bridget Fielding, right, from national campaigning organisation, 38 Degrees
Volunteer Christine Hoare and Bridget Fielding, right, from national campaigning organisation, 38 Degrees

PROTESTORS from a national campaigning organisation took to the streets of Wigan to send a clear message to politicians: “Save Our NHS”.

Campaigners from the borough’s branch of online group 38 Degrees spent Saturday afternoon giving out leaflets and asking residents to sign petitions in Wigan town centre.

It was a brilliant day and we were very well received. There were very few people who didn’t want to sign our petition

Lynn Swift

The demonstration was organised to show the strength of feeling against further private-sector involvement in the NHS and to warn political parties to interfere with the public health service at their peril.

Organisers say Wiganers echoed many of their concerns about changes to the structure of the universal health care system and private companies becoming further involved, with more than 100 names being added to the petitions.

Standish resident Lynn Swift, one of the protest organisers, said: “It was a brilliant day and we were very well received. There were very few people who didn’t want to sign our petition.

“Most people were concerned about going on to an insurance-based system like it is in the US, because if you were seriously ill as I have been your cover would run out at some point and you wouldn’t be able to get any more.

“Your treatment would then stop and that would be it, you would fade away and die. We are looking to send a message to save the NHS from privatisation.

“I was surprised how many people realised what is happening. They said they believe the NHS is being sold off little by little so we won’t notice, with politicians chipping away a bit at a time. I think that is exactly what is happening.”

The petitions collected by 38 Degrees groups across the country will now be sent to every political party standing in May’s general election.

The organisation is strictly non-partisan but campaigns on issues of concern to its members including tax avoidance and the environment.

The group scored a notable victory when it successfully took health secretary Jeremy Hunt to court over his plans to close departments at a London hospital.