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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 17:41 GMT
Protesters: 'The NHS is under threat'
By Nick Triggle
BBC News health reporter in Bournemouth

Health workers and pensioners have taken to the streets to protest about the government's handling of the NHS.

What are they most concerned about?

Milos Kmet, an IT support worker in Hackney, London

Milos Kmet
Mr Kmet is concerned the NHS is heading for privatisation

"The government are increasingly turning towards the private sector.

"I have been living in England for seven years. I come from Slovakia where there used to be a free health service but now it is private.

"I can see that happening here. We are going down that road and it will be a shame if it happens."

Abe Golamaully, a senior staff nurse at a mental health centre in Stoke

Abe Golamaully
The government wants to see more done in the community

"I work in a locally based service, just the sort of community facility the government is supposedly keen on.

"But we are facing cuts and financial pressure. The government has lost control. It is very hard for staff working on the frontline.

"Ministers call it rationalisation, but it is cuts and it is going to have an impact on services and patients."

Paula Maffia, a medical secretary from east London

Paula Maffia
Ms Maffia's job is under threat

"We have been told that half of the medical secretaries at our hospital will have to go.

"It is terrible working under these conditions. Morale is low and staff are rightly worried how they will be able to survive.

"It seems they think we are dispensable, but the consultants we work with don't think so. They know we do a valuable job, writing up the medical notes.

"If we go, the work will get outsourced abroad and the quality will suffer."

Tim Sandle, a microbiologist for the National Blood Service

Tim Sandle
Mr Sandle works for the National Blood Service

"We have been told 10% of the jobs will go. And this is not unique to the NHS. Plenty of areas are in a similar boat.

"Yet at the same time the government is ploughing more money into the private sector. How can that be?

"I think the health service is going to suffer, we have to start fighting for it or else it will be too late."

Anne Fulton, a nurse who works with elderly people

Anne Fulton
Ms Fulton believes the government is acting too quickly

"They have closed a rehabilitation ward where I work and are aiming to look after the elderly in their own homes.

"But the trouble is there just isn't the facilities in the community to look after them properly.

"What often happens is, their condition worsens and they end up being readmitted back into hospital.

"Treating people in the community is fine, but you have to have the structures in place if it is going to work."

Doris Smith, a pensioner from Lewisham, south London

Doris Smith
Ms Smith is campaigning against increased use of the private sector

"Pensioners up-and-down the country are worried about the NHS. Many of us rely on it and we don't like seeing what is happening to it that is why we have joined the protest.

"I remember when there was not an NHS and, I can tell you, it is essential we preserve it.

"But the government is slowly bankrupting it through its obsession with the private sector.

"Take PFIs, hospitals like my local one. We are being tied to 30-year contracts paying back much more than they borrowed. It does not make sense."


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