PROTESTERS handed out leaflets to hospital staff in a bid to raise awareness over NHS reforms.
Members of pressure group Sunderland Against the Cuts dished out the flyers to workers at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
The group fears that reforms proposed under the controversial Health and Social Care Bill could lead to the loss of 50,000 NHS jobs.
But they hope their stark message - Don’t mess with the NHS - will encourage medics and other hospital staff to come along to a public meeting next week.
The event at Sunderland Civic Centre on Tuesday will hear speakers from public sector union UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing.
Organiser Gary Duncan said: “The coalition Government is determined to carve up the NHS and turn a basic human need - healthcare - into a money-making racket for corporate business.
“We in Sunderland Against the Cuts wish to encourage a fight back from NHS staff and work with them in defending a great institution and cornerstone of society.
“We have a public meeting with speakers from UNISON and the Royal College of Nursing.
“Everyone is welcome to attend and air their views in the open discussion that will follow the speakers.”
The meeting will take place on Tuesday in committee room two of the Civic Centre, from 7.30pm-9pm.
RADICAL NHS CHANGES
INTRODUCED to Parliament in January, the Health and Social Bill proposes radical changes to the NHS, including handing over £80 billion of the NHS budget to GPs and scrapping Primary Care Trusts.
But it has hit fierce opposition from some quarters.
In April, the Royal College of Nursing passed a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
A total of 99 per cent of nurses voted against the minister, who has since apologised for failing to communicate his vision of the NHS.
The Bill has also led to a backlash from Liberal Democrat MPs.
Norman Lamb, personal advsier to Nick Clegg and former Lib Dem health spokesman, has threatened to resign unless all Lib Dem concerns with health reforms are fully addressed.
But Prime Minister David Cameron has said public service reforms cannot be put off.