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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 March 2007, 11:15 GMT
Health secretary lobbied over NHS
Leicester Royal Infirmary
900 jobs cuts have been announced at Leicester hospitals
Union representatives from across the East Midlands have lobbied Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt over cuts to NHS jobs and services.

Health workers met the MP to hand in petitions opposing cuts and privatisation at her Leicester office.

The event was been organised by Unison and the Royal College of Nursing.

It is part of a national day of protests against cuts to the NHS, which includes demonstrations in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield.

'Rush to expand'

Andy Belfield of the East Midlands branch of Unison said: "We think that the NHS doesn't need constant reform or privatisation. It needs time, support and strong management and leadership.

"The group believes that up until the last election, thanks to more money from the government and the hard work of staff, the NHS was doing fine, waiting lists were down and many patients were treated quicker.

"All of that has been put at risk by the rush to expand private sector involvement in the NHS."

The events on Saturday have been organised by a coalition of NHS unions under the banner NHS Together.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton has said unions and staff signed up to the principles of the NHS Plan, which sets out reforms over 10 years.

She said: "If we know that change will deliver better quality care and better value for money for taxpayers, then standing still is simply not an option."

She added that nine out of 10 patients rated the care they received as excellent, very good or good.

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