07:00 Wednesday 04 December 2013

Campaigners against Cambridgeshire NHS tender bring their protest to Ely

Written byJORDAN DAY

Campaigners protesting against the contentious Cambridgeshire NHS tender staged a lobby in Ely yesterday (Tuesday).

Around 30 campaigners armed with placards lobbied the meeting of the Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at the Ely Cathedral Centre, on Palace Green.

Members of GMB - the union for NHS workers, UNISON, the South East Cambs Labour Party and Stop the NHS Sell Off turned out for the protest.

They are angry because the CCG Older People’s Programme has been put out to tender in the largest contract of its type to date.

The CCG insists the procurement is to “improve outcomes and service quality” for all patients but residents and community leaders are worried the move will leave elderly and vulnerable patients in Cambridgeshire isolated.

GMB is calling for the tendering process, which is worth up to £1 billion and has been ongoing since April, to be stopped immediately.

Steve Sweeney, GMB regional organiser, said: “There are still far too many crucial questions that remain unanswered at this late stage in the process.

“GMB have led calls for the process to be halted and have grave concerns over the integrity of the process.

“Our NHS is too important to be used as an experiment and once it has gone is unlikely to return. This could be a watershed moment for the NHS and key information should be in the public domain.”

Jo Rust, area organiser for UNISON, said the lobby went “very well” and that campaigners were “able to make their views heard”.

She added: “We will be lobbying every single meeting that the CCG holds.”

The CCG is urging patients not to worry about the change and says improving care for older people is one of its “key priorities”.

The next CCG meeting is being held in Cambridge in the New Year.

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