ACTIVISTS gathered in Blackpool to urge residents to fight against proposed changes to the NHS.
Campaigners claim the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill will see parts of the health service privatised.
Members of Blackpool Against The Cuts collected nearly 200 signatures in just over an hour after launching a petition in the resort.
They will be out collecting more signatures in Church Street in the town centre over coming Saturdays.
Dianne Booth, of the St Annes branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said they had been overwhelmed by the response.
She said: “People are saying they absolutely agree with keeping the NHS as a state-funded national service, and I think they are genuinely worried.
“We are also using the petition to inform people about what the government’s plans are because not everyone has heard of the new bill.”
Brian Gregory, senior vice-president of the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Trade Union Council, said: “If this Bill goes through, as I understand it 49 per cent of beds in hospitals will be occupied by private patients.
“I had an uncle who lived in Texas, who was a Second World War veteran, and he had to come back to this country to die because he couldn’t afford the medical bills in Texas.
“No health system is perfect, but if we are going to go the same way as America, there are people who won’t be able to afford medical care.”
Lisa Davis, of Layton, was among the shoppers who signed the petition.
She said; “I’m worried the NHS is going down the wrong road.
“The Government should be putting more resources into it and I don’t want to see any privatisation.
“I fear it could end up that if you can’t afford treatment, you don’t get it.”
The bill aims to give GPs control of much of the NHS budget and would open up the health service to greater competition from the private and voluntary sector.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley says the NHS has to be modernised to deliver “the best care in the future”.
The Government has offered more than 100 concessions on the bill in an effort to get its NHS reforms passed into law, but opponents say it should be dropped in its entirety.