OPPOSITION to Government plans for the NHS was aired at a public meeting in Sunderland.
Protest group Sunderland Against the Cuts organised the event with the message “Don’t Mess with the NHS”, which was held in the civic centre.
The pressure group has already dished out flyers to workers at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
It fears that reforms proposed under the Health and Social Care Bill could lead to the loss of 50,000 NHS jobs.
Sunderland nurse Kathy Haq and Ken Richardson, a Primary Care Trust worker and activist in the Public Service Alliance, led the debate and answered questions from the audience.
Speaking after the meeting, Kathy, who has been a nurse for 44 years, said: “If this goes ahead, it could be the beginning of the end of the NHS.
“Nationally, up to 70,000 front line posts are expected to go over the next couple of years, the majority of them being nurses.”
But she ruled out strike action, adding: “I certainly would never do anything that would affect patient care.”
Gary Duncan, from Sunderland Against the Cuts, said: “The Coalition Government is determined to carve up the NHS and turn a basic human need – healthcare – into a moneymaking racket for corporate business.
“We in Sunderland Against the Cuts wish to encourage a fightback from NHS staff and work with them in defending a great institution and cornerstone of society.
“There was agreement on the need to oppose the Tories’ plans for the NHS, but disagreement on how to do so.
“The Unison way is to wait for another Labour government.
“But we in SATC know this strategy will allow the Tories to destroy the NHS.”