West Hampstead woman whose life was saved three times by NHS issues privatisation warning

Evelyn Bercott who's life has been saved three times by NHS treatment campaigning in Finchley Road.

Evelyn Bercott who's life has been saved three times by NHS treatment campaigning in Finchley Road. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A woman who says her life was saved three times by the NHS has joined more than 1,200 constituents in Hampstead and Kilburn in calling for “an end to privatisation of the health service”.

Evelyn Bercott, 59, praised doctors and nurses who helped her beat cancer three times in the past eight years, twice at the Royal Free.

Last Saturday, she was outside Waitrose in Finchley Road joining members of campaign group 38 Degrees as they held a national day of protest “to save the NHS”.

The West Hampstead resident, who lives in Greencroft Gardens, said: “The NHS saved my life three times. We would all be stuffed if it wasn’t free and we need to protect it from creeping privatisation.”

More than 1,200 people in Hampstead and Kilburn have signed a petition sent to MP Glenda Jackson and candidates standing in the upcoming May election, saying: “Over the past few years, NHS funding has been squeezed so much that services are suffering.

“This winter, hospitals up and down the country have declared “major incidents” because they’re struggling to cope. And now most hospitals are warning that their budget for next year has “ reached the point where patient care is at risk.

“Meanwhile, the government is letting profit-hungry companies take over more and more NHS services. At at a time of squeezed budgets, this is the last thing the NHS needs. We want an NHS where patient safety is put first, and where the NHS is run for the public good.”

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The group was also campaigning against an EU/US free trade agreement being negotiated between Brussels and Washington – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Proponents claim its aim is to remove trade barriers in a number of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the two continents.

But health campaigners believe TTIP would allow the NHS to be “carved open” by US private healthcare giants, with 38 Degrees saying: “If TTIP opens our NHS to American private healthcare companies, we could see even more privatisation and a slide into more US-style healthcare. We want the NHS excluded from TTIP.”

Defending the free trade agreement, the Department of Health said if passed it had the potential to benefit patients “through promoting collaboration across the pharmaceutical and life science sectors”.

It added: “The European Commission has explicitly ruled out public services from the scope of any market liberalisation in the TTIP. The agreement will not require participating EU members to open up their national health systems to private providers.”