Communities in Runcorn and Widnes came together today at a series of rallies to oppose the potential privatisation of two urgent care centres.
They were organised by UNISON North West and were attended by local residents, care centre staff and the local MP.
A decision on who will run the services is due imminently, with the mandatory 'stand still' period set to expire at 00:01 on 22 June.
In recent weeks, fears have been growing that the contract to provide urgent care services in Runcorn and Widnes will be handed to a private company.
The services are currently run by Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust (WHH) and Bridgewater NHS Community Healthcare Foundation Trust.
Both NHS trusts have taken part in a competitive tender process but Mike Amesbury, Labour MP for Weaver Vale was informed earlier this month that the contract for the Runcorn services would no longer be provided by its current NHS provider, sparking concern that the contract has been awarded to a private company.
UNISON regional organiser David McKnight said: “The people of Runcorn and Widnes turned out to say that they do not want to see their urgent care services sold off to a for-profit company.
"UNISON will always oppose the privatisation of NHS services and we are standing together with local residents to demand that these services stay within the health service.
"These services are crucial to the health and wellbeing of the local community, and uncertainty has left staff and patients alike feeling anxious about the future of these urgent care centres.
"Where private companies have been awarded contracts within the health service, we have consistently seen attacks on terms and conditions of staff, cost-cutting and mismanagement.
"The people of Runcorn and Widnes deserve local services they can rely on, accountable and run publicly within the NHS.”
Mike Amesbury MP said: “It’s impossible for me to overstate just how opposed I am to this plan and indeed any proposals that would see vital health services handed over to a private provider.
"The NHS is a national institution and something upon which we all rely. My own family and I have used this very facility ourselves in the past and appreciate just how vital it is to this community and the wider area.
"I’ll be working with unions and the community to ensure we do everything in our power to oppose these plans every single step of the way.”