Hundreds join in NHS protest

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More than 400 people took to the streets for a hospital services protest march on Saturday.

Hospital workers from Chorley and Preston carried out the action following Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust’s proposal to award its sterilisation services contract to Synergy Health.

The noon to 2pm protest in Chorley – which resulted in roads in Astley Village, Euxton and Chorley being closed, including Chancery Road, Euxton Lane, Park Road and Market Street – was supported by unions and campaign groups.

Steve Turner, from the Protect Chorley Hospital from Cuts and Privatisation Campaign, said: “It was an excellent turnout. I think, to be honest, the march was organised at very, very short notice, so we only had a couple of weeks, but it was a really,
really good turn out.

“We got a lot of people who were from Chorley and Preston hospitals and some from Bolton, as well, and the public of Chorley were absolutely fantastic. As we marched through Market Street they started clapping, so it was
really good.

“And something very unusual happened.

“Chorley were playing Solihull and just as we marched through Market Street there were about 50 or 60 Solihull fans, so we clashed and they joined the walk and were singing football songs relating to the NHS.”

He added: “I think it sent a clear message that the people of Chorley that have supported our hospital since it was a cottage hospital are not prepared to see services taken away from it. I think that was very, very strong

“We want a word with the hospital and want Karen Partington (trust chief executive) to reverse the decision and hopefully she’ll do that.”

Karen Partington said: “We are completely committed to only making savings that maintain or improve services and are absolutely confident that this change would not detrimentally affect the quality of care we provide. Following discussions with staff and unions, we do recognise that we could have managed this process more effectively and we realise that this is an unsettling time for our sterile services staff.”

UNISON organised the march and their spokesperson Dion Baugh said: “It’s been a great success today and it must now be clear to the trust that people in Chorley do not want their health service to be run for private profit. The trust needs to ditch its proposed privatisation of sterile services and keep the NHS public.”