CAMPAIGNERS in Dewsbury and Mirfield are demanding that general election candidates pledge to take the NHS ‘off the table’ in any future trade deal with the USA.
As part of a week of action across the country, activists and prospective parliamentary candidates staged a protest outside Dewsbury & District Hospital on Wednesday.
Paula Sheriff (Lab, Dewsbury), Tracy Brabin (Lab, Batley & Spen) and Philip James (Brexit Party, Dewsbury) joined campaigners from the ‘Keep our NHS Public’ and ‘We Own It’ groups to publicly pledge to protect the NHS from trade deals and privatisation.
The Press was informed that all candidates in both the Batley & Spen and Dewsbury constituencies were invited to attend.
However Mark Eastwood (Con, Dewsbury) claimed he had no knowledge of the event when contacted on Tuesday morning.
The week of action comes as thousands of emails were sent to parliamentary candidates nationwide asking them to sign the online pledge.
John Rossington, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Dewsbury, confirmed that he had done so.
It is believed more than 250 candidates have also signed.
Ms Brabin, said: “This is such an important issue – everywhere I go, most doors I knock on, the one local issue of deep concern is Dewsbury Hospital.
“These campaigners have been active for a number of years because they and I have seen encroachment of privatisation in our amazing NHS – we have to ensure that it keeps free at the point of use.
“It’s the jewel in the crown of the Labour party and we will protect it with passion.”
Ellen Lees, campaigns officer at We Own It, said: “The NHS is the most important issue for voters in this election. The public don’t want to see it sold off as part of a trade deal with Donald Trump.
“It’s absolutely vital that all parliamentary candidates join other leading politicians in pledging to take our NHS off the table once and for all by ending privatisation.”
A public petition calling for the NHS to be kept out of trade deals, which has already received more than 900,000 signatures, can be signed online at change.org.