The chair of a Greater Manchester primary care trust (PCT) resigned in protest at the government’s plans for the NHS last weekend.
Debbie Abrahams, chair of Rochdale PCT, chose a 500-strong Keep a NHS Public rally in Manchester to announce her decision.
She told the demonstrators, “During my period as chair of Rochdale PCT, I have seen a steady stream of national policies introduced – foundation trusts, choice, independent treatment centres and now commisioning a patient-led NHS – which threaten these values and the future of a NHS that is equitable and free at the point of need.”
Many of those who protested in Manchester were workers from Pennine Acute Trust, which includes hospitals in Fairfield, North Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale. The trust has been threatened with 800 job cuts.
Another demonstration in Haringey, north London, initiated a campaign to save NHS services in the area.
Further protests are planned in Maidstone, Kent, and Whipps Cross in London this weekend, then in Leicester and Birmingham in subsequent weeks.
Meanwhile health chiefs in Lincolnshire have announced that they are axing 617 jobs – more than half through compulsory redundancies.
The latest cuts from the United Lincolnshire Health Trust push the job loss total in the NHS since February to close to 17,000.
Pressure group Health Emergency revealed at the weekend that nurses in Oxfordshire had been reduced to tears on the wards as news of redundancies filtered through. In Waltham Forest community nursing staff have been told that they must reapply for their own jobs.
Geoff Martin, Health Emergency head of campaigns, said, “The jobs carnage in the NHS rolls on. Despite the warm words from the government these are real cuts to real jobs.
“A Labour government that chooses to attack health care staff, and the services that they provide, in this callous fashion isn’t long for this world.”
For more on the fightback in the NHS go to www.keepourNHSpublic.com