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Protesters occupy bridge in central London

(Xinhua)

08:40, October 10, 2011

LONDON, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Britons on Sunday occupied a bridge in central London to protest against the government's health reform plan to be debated in the House of Lords several days later.

Trade unionists, pensioners and health workers joined the protest and blocked the Westminster Bridge, one of the busiest bridges over the River Thames.

"NHS should be run by the government to provide free healthcare," Nathan Roberts said in an interview with Xinhua. "It should not be competition for profits."

NHS, officially called National Health Service, provides a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of England.

According to the revised reform plan, hospitals, private healthcare providers and family doctors will be entitled to compete for patients, many management staff will be cut to reduce bureaucracy and GPs will be responsible for buying in patient care.

Commenting on the protest, a spokesman of UK Uncut, one of the organizers of the protest, said "This is an emergency and if we want to save our NHS we need to shout as loud as we can. No-one voted for this bill, but together we can stop it."

While, a spokesman of the Department of Health claimed the principles of the modernization plans -- patient power, clinical leadership, a focus on results -- had been widely supported.

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