Private healthcare providers and patients went head to head in a tug of war stunt.

On Saturday, NHS campaigners staged a tug of war stunt at East Oxford Health Centre to protest against the Health and Care Bill which passed its second reading in the House of Commons on July 14.

The legislation has been branded a 'corporate takeover Bill' by campaigners.

as part of the protest one team dressed as Virgin founder Richard Branson, Serco CEO Rupert Soames, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Baroness Dido Harding. The other team were patients, doctors and nurses.

NHS campaigners have claimed that the forthcoming Health and Care Bill will increase the private sector’s involvement in the NHS and have called for the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid to withdraw the legislation.

Among concerns raised by campaigners are the proposed changes to the rules for contracting NHS services.

Presently, Section 75 of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act requires a process of compulsory competitive tendering for NHS services.

The government’s new legislation would end this requirement, which campaigners claim would make it much easier for services to be contracted to the private sector without checks and balances.

Further concerns have been raised about proposals for new ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS) boards. These would be new bodies within the NHS designed to bring together all bodies working within the health service to work on public health strategy.

However, campaigners have warned that the forthcoming Bill would allow private companies to sit on such decision making boards, arguing that this creates potential for conflict of interest.

Campaigner Liz Peretz, who organised the stunt in Oxford said: “I was shocked when I heard about the details of the government’s plans for our NHS. With the year we’ve had, our precious health service should be being invested in and cared for.

“Instead, the government is planning to open the NHS up to further privatisation, with profit hungry companies being given a seat at the decision making table.

“We’re campaigning today to stop this outrageous attack on our health service. We want our NHS to be run for all of us, not in the interests of private companies.”

The stunt in Oxford is taking place alongside dozens of others in towns across the country including Lewes and Leamington.

We Own It, the group coordinating the protests nationally, has said that allowing private companies to sit on NHS decision making boards would 'undermine the principles at the core of the NHS'.

A petition launched by We Own It in opposition to the Health and Care Bill has received more than 58,000 signatures.

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