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Campaigners demand greater support for public sector as election results unfold

CAMPAIGNERS are demanding greater support for public services, the NHS and social care as the election results unfold across Britain today.

Voters went to the polls yesterday to decide local and mayoral elections in England, as well as key votes for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd.

The elections across Britain, which included a by-election in Hartlepool, were the first since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and the start of Sir Keir Starmer’s tenure as Labour leader.

After more than a year of significant pressure on Britain’s health service and social care staff across the country, campaigners have said those elected in this week’s votes must ensure they protect “all public services from privatisation and outsourcing.” 

We Own It campaign director Cat Hobbs said: “The vast majority of people in this country believe in well funded public services in public ownership.

“We’ve seen during the pandemic how privatised test and trace has failed while the NHS has delivered the vaccine successfully in public hands.

“Public services from water to transport, from care work to council services, and from schools to our NHS are the backbone of our society — they need to work for people not profit.”

Others have backed this message, highlighting the current threats to our public health service, including the forthcoming NHS Bill, which activists have said “could open the gates to corporates” taking hold in the NHS.  

The Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) campaign said the legislation poses a threat to local services by removing “the teeth from councils’ scrutiny and referral back powers on health plans.” 

KONP co-chairman Dr Tony O’Sullivan said: “We urgently need MPs and newly elected councils to seize the health and social care agenda.

“The pandemic is reducing for now, but five million on NHS waiting lists, poverty, poor housing and mental health distress are killing people. 

“Before another wave, public health teams have to be built back locally to take control of Covid test, trace, isolate and support systems and to continue the vaccine rollout partnering the NHS and GPs. 

“The government is building back the private health sector not the NHS — a £10 billion contract over four years. 

“We will help brief our elected reps but they need to see the risks now.”

The calls come as research for the GMB union revealed voters want Covid-19 profiteers to fund front-line workers and devastated public services. 

A poll carried out by Survation found a windfall tax on companies like Amazon is the most popular way to cover the £2.8bn cost of lockdown to councils.

The survey also found a rise in corporation tax is the second most popular way of plugging the financial gap, with the least popular policy a rise in council tax.

GMB national secretary Rehana Asam said: “The public knows the true value of our front-line workers and are telling politicians to do the right thing by the care workers, nurses, NHS staff, schools staff and local government workers who stood by us all.

“Politicians should take heed as Britain goes to the polls.” 

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