CAMPAIGNERS sent a message to the county ahead of a key vote on the future of the NHS this week.

The groups Oxford Save Our Services (SoS) and Oxfordshire Keep Our NHS Public gathered in Summertown on Saturday to urge Oxford West and Abingdon Tory MP Nicola Blackwood to vote against the Health and Social Care Bill today.

They wrote their own prescriptions for the health service which will then be delivered to Ms Blackwood’s House of Commons office in pill bottles.

The Health and Social Care Bill would increase GP’s powers to commission services on behalf of patients and would establish an independent NHS board to allocate resources and provide commissioning guidance.

But critics are concerned the bill would create a market-based system which would penalise less profitable patients.

Campaigner Liz Ely said: “This bill seems designed to benefit commercial interests rather than serving the needs of the people.

“I want to keep the NHS in public hands and do not want an American-style system where services are operated by private companies for profit.

“If this bill is passed I believe it will badly affect people all over Oxfordshire including my community and family.

“I have pledged not to vote for any local candidate who supports this bill.”

Nicola Blackwood said: “I am going to be considering the bill right up to the vote, but at the moment I am intending to vote for it. My priority is to ensure that the NHS will always be free at the point of use. I think we need this bill in order to reform the NHS.”

Oxford SoS is a residents’ group, which campaigns against cuts to public services.

Spokesman Cat Hobbs said: “In her election leaflets Nicola Blackwood said the NHS was her number one priority.

“It is disgraceful that she is not fighting this bill when it will be bad for patients all over the country. She should be standing up for Oxfordshire and voting against this bill.”

Andrew Smith, Labour MP for Oxford East, said: “I am very much against the Bill because I think it threatens fundamental damage to the principles of the NHS.”