Health minister is jeered

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley came to Eddercliffe Intermediate Care Centre. Labour MP Mike Wood and other leaders organised a protest against reforms to the NHS. (d02081145)
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley came to Eddercliffe Intermediate Care Centre. Labour MP Mike Wood and other leaders organised a protest against reforms to the NHS. (d02081145)

THE government health minister was greeted with jeers as he visited a Littletown care centre.

Andrew Lansley, the MP leading radical NHS reform plans, was met by protests over cuts and privatisation as he arrived at the Eddercliffe Centre on Tuesday.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley came to Eddercliffe Intermediate Care Centre. Labour MP Mike Wood and other leaders organised a protest against reforms to the NHS. (d02081147)

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley came to Eddercliffe Intermediate Care Centre. Labour MP Mike Wood and other leaders organised a protest against reforms to the NHS. (d02081147)

He did not comment before walking into the centre, which provides rehabilitation for patients leaving hospital.

The protest was organised by Spen MP Mike Wood, who said the minister was not welcome in Spen. He said: “The government is planning to privatise the cornerstone of our civilised society and sell it off to the highest bidder – and everybody in this country except the super rich will suffer as a result.”

Among the protesters were Green Party members Martin Hemingway and Yorkshire and Humber co-ordinator Chris Foren, who said any shortfall should be met by closing offshore tax havens.

Members of the workers’ union Unison were also protesting. Kirklees lead steward Pat Jones said: “I think Mr Lansley has got a nerve showing his face here. All the Tories are interested in is lining the pockets of the rich. These government ministers are millionaires who don’t need a community health service.”

Patricia Foley, 53, said: “I see the NHS as a strong British institution that other countries envy. I don’t want an American health service. It’s chilling.”

Earlier this year a public outcry forced the government to rethink radical proposals such as healthcare providers competing for NHS contracts, and axing Primary Care Trusts with responsibilities going to GPs. Reviewed plans still involve competition but now the NHS’s primary duty is providing best care rather than promoting competition, and PCTs will be scrapped in favour of ‘clinical senates’ of health workers to oversee how healthcare is provided.