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Protesters Arrested Outside NHS Privatisation Think Tank Building

The think tank, 2020health, which claims to be “independent and grassroots”, has been a key influence on Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill.

Medical students protest outside 2020HealthThis morning, at 9:00am, 15 NHS Direct Action and UK Uncut activists visited 2020health to protest against the think tank’s role in lobbying for NHS privatisation.

Dressed in scrubs the protesters entered the building at 83 Victoria Street through the front door and took the lift up to 2020health’s offices, where they asked to see the chairman, Tom Sackville. After being refused an audience with a representative from 2020health, the activists were asked to leave and did so peacefully.

Once outside, they continued their protest, but were quickly confronted by over 20 riot police and one FIT team surveillance officer. Two activists were then searched and arrested on suspicion of “aggravated criminal damage”.

Once again the politicisation of the police was evident, with the policy of arresting people at all peaceful demonstrations, irrespective of whether or not there is any crime being committed.

NHS Direct Action, the pressure group campaigning against the privatisation of the NHS, says that today’s protest opens a major new front in the battle to save public services, targeting the think tanks and NGOs who plan to profit from NHS “reform”.

The group of medical students, health workers and NHS users are angry over the access 2020health has been given to senior Conservatives and policy makers.

The Chair, Tom Sackville, a health minister under Margaret Thatcher, is the CEO of the International Federation of Health Plans, which represents 100 private healthcare companies in 31 countries. Numerous other 2020health executives have lucrative positions on private sector healthcare payroles.

The centre right think tank, that believes in reducing the number of NHS services provided for free, had a large presence at the Tory party conference.

NHS Direct Action's websiteThe protest comes just days before UK Uncut and NHS Direct Action are due to hold their first full day of action over the proposed NHS reforms. Over 30 locations around the country are planning to occupy local bank branches and hold NHS protests with the simple message of ‘the banks are sick and in need of reform, not the NHS’.

Jane Macdonald, a medical student, said:

“2020healthcare likes to say that it’s grassroots and independent, when in reality all it stands for is profits for large health care companies. The government’s so called NHS listening exercise is a sham. It’s clear that the only voices being listened to are those of the private sector health care companies and think tanks that are due to rake in profits from selling off the principle of universal health care for all.”

She concluded by saying:

“Andrew Lansley’s proposals to start privatising health care is an insult to the generations who have fought to build a public health care system. Lansley should resign immediately and the government must start actually listening to the doctors, nurses and patients who are crying out for these reforms to be stopped.”

More details over the day of action can be found here:

You can also read the full dossier of private health care companies lobbying for NHS privatisation here

Source: NHS Direct Action

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