GPs march to parliament to protest against Health Bill

GPs took part in a rally in central London on Wednesday night which saw thousands of NHS workers protest against the Health Bill.

Demonstrators
Demonstrators

A group of BMA members, including south London GP Dr Louise Irvine, marched from BMA House to Central Hall in Westminster.

Dr Irvine said that she saw at least 30 GPs taking part in the unofficial BMA march, organised by the London regional committee.

Dr Irvine said: ‘It was very colourful. There were about 600 people in the BMA march, including medical students and junior doctors.’

GPC member and Medical Practitioners' Union president Dr Ron Singer also attended the rally. He said that a number of GPs were inside Central Hall, which was full to capacity with around 2,000 NHS workers, before the BMA group arrived.

The hall hosted speakers including Greater Manchester GP Dr Kailash Chand, BMA Council member Dr Clive Peedell, who in January ran from Cardiff to London in protest against the Bill, and BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum.


TUC rally: Central Hall in Westminister

Speaking after the rally Dr Meldrum said: ‘It was fantastic to see such strength of feeling from the NHS staff in Westminster today. It underlines just how isolated the government is now in its view that these reforms will be good for the NHS.’

Dr Irvine added: ‘There was so much support – we feel that we now have the majority behind us. The public are finally waking up to the implications of the Bill.’

She said that more and more GPs, including clinical commissioning group (CCG) leaders, were opposing the Bill.

‘We’re just being used as tools, and some GPs have been manipulated – support for clinical commissioning has been abused.’

‘I think we will begin to see more and more CCG leaders coming out against the privatisation.’

Although Dr Irvine was hopeful that the Bill could still be dropped she said it was important for GPs to make plans for if the Bill was passed.

‘It’s wise to think about the post-Bill scenario too as its important not to be demoralised if the Bill passes. We will need to continue the campaign, not give up,’ she said.

The Bill will be discussed in the Lords on Thursday for the sixth day of the report stage. It will have its final reading in the Lords on 19 March. 

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