BURTON NHS campaigners have joined forces at a public meeting to urge people to join the fight against the privatisation of cancer services in Staffordshire.
East Staffordshire Trade Council and the Cancer – Not for Profit campaign group hosted the meeting at the Caribbean Association, in Uxbridge Street on Tuesday.
The meeting followed the controversial decision by four clinical commissioning groups in Staffordshire to put services out to tender.
Although East Staffordshire pulled out to explore other options, the decisions have sparked fears amongst people at the possibility of paying for end-of-life care.
Guest speakers at the meeting included consultant radiologist and founder member of Keep Our NHS Public Jacky Davis and Labour's prospective parliamentary candidates for Burton and South Derbyshire Jon Wheale and Cheryl Pidgeon.
The meeting was well attended, but notably empty were two seats set aside for Burton and South Derbyshire Conservative MPs Andrew Griffiths and Heather Wheeler.
Chairman of the East Staffordshire Trade Council Paul Walker claimed the MPs were both aware of the meeting and Mr Griffiths had been formally invited, but had said that the issue did not affect his constituents.
Burton's Labour candidate Jon Wheale vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with Burton.
He said: "Certain sectors by their very nature are not best placed in the hands of those running private organisations.
"I believe that the NHS should be provided as a public service. I promise to stand shoulder to shoulder with every one of you united in our cause to protect the NHS."
Cheryl Pidgeon said: "I pay taxes into the system so that the healthcare service is there for me if I need it and not only if I have the money to pay for it.
"We cannot be the generation that allows the NHS to slip through our fingers. We have to be strong and united."
Her sentiments were echoed throughout the meeting and Dr Jacky Davis urged the public to go out and campaign for the service to remain in the public sector.
She said: "Get out and tell people about it, get angry. Although it's a mess we must think that we can fight this. If we don't fight for our NHS we're going to lose it."