HUNDREDS of thousands of protesters have put their name to a petition opposing NHS changes
The petition, signed by Easington residents, was received by local MP Grahame Morris.
It was organised by the campaign group 38 Degrees which lobbies on a range of issues affecting people in the UK.
Mr Morris accepted the petition at his constituency headquarters at the Glebe Centre in Murton.
The Government says that £20billion-worth of cuts to the NHS are urgently needed by 2014. Under the plans, GPs will be given more financial responsibility, while Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and regional bodies, known as strategic health authorities, are to be phased out.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has denied attempting to privatise the NHS.
But 38 Degrees claims that the plans will:
Risk breaking up the health service and handing it to private healthcare companies.
The Government has not listened to the “real experts” – doctors, nurses and patients – when they have given warnings about these plans.
Have rushed through the plans without testing them properly first.
May cut beds, wards, doctors or nurse.
The petition was handed to Mr Morris by campaigner Stephen Barry, of Seaham.
He said: “From a personal point of view, I had retinal surgery in 2001 and the National Health Service saved my eyesight, so I’m eternally grateful to the NHS.
“I thinks it’s a hasty plan, without any care, planning or modelling, and it fills me with fear that, if it goes wrong, it will be to the detriment of the whole of society.”
Mr Morris said: “How much longer will the Government ignore the overwhelming opposition to the Health Bill before they stop their reckless gamble with our NHS?
“The public value the NHS. They have seen Labour’s investment and it has worked. That is why despite the Conservatives’ attempt to talk down the NHS, public satisfaction remains high at 72 per cent.
“The NHS is unrecognisable from what Labour inherited in 1997 and it is one of our proudest achievements. No one will believe the Conservatives ever again when they say the NHS is safe in their hands.
“On behalf of the Health Select Committee, I received Unite’s 13,000-name petition this week. Today, I have received the 38 Degree online petition which is signed by almost quarter of a million people.
“It is time for the Government to listen, stop and rethink another ill-conceived policy. I would ask all those who care about the NHS to sign the online petition and register their opposition to the Government’s health reforms.”