Press release: NHS Direct Action and UK Uncut target ‘think tank’ lobbying for NHS privatisation


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NHS Direct Action and UK Uncut target ‘think tank’ lobbying for NHS privatisation
2 protesters arrested outside ‘think tank’ lobbying for NHS privatisation as government ‘listening exercise’ nears its end

This morning, at 9:00am, 15 NHS Direct Action [1] and UK Uncut [2] activists visited 2020health to protest against the think tank’s role in lobbying for NHS privatisation.

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

Dressed in medical 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 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”. The protesters had been handing out leaflets to the public and had marked the pavement outside the office with “NHS” in a water-based fake blood solution.

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 payrolls [3]. 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.

The 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 groups around the country are planning to turn banks into hospitals to send the message ‘it’s the banks that are sick and in need of reform, not the NHS’ [4].

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.”

“Andrew Lansley’s proposals to start privatising health care are 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.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

[1] NHS Direct Action is a protest group of students, health workers and patients organising creative direct actions against the privatisation of the NHS. Companies and think-tanks such as Care UK and the Policy Exchange have been previously targeted with auctions, die-ins and impromptu occupations.

[2] UK Uncut have creatively occupied hundreds of banks and
retail shops belonging to tax-avoiding corporations over the last 8 months. It is a direct action network with a national reach, and 30,000 followers on twitter.

[3] http://www.spinwatch.org/blogs-mainmenu-29/tamasin-cave-mainmenu-107/5391-private-health-lobby-out-in-force-at-tory-conference

[4] More details over the day of action can be found at www.ukuncut.org/emergency