Hundreds put up signs opposing sale of cancer and end-of-life care in Staffordshire
Hundreds of homeowners have put signs up outside their homes in opposition to the move to allow companies to bid for a huge contract to provide cancer care and end-of-life services.
It was revealed last week that a shortlist of seven firms have now been drawn up for the two multi-million pound contracts.
The 'Stop the Sale' estate agency style signs starting appearing on Wednesday and now around 200 have been put up outside properties mainly in Stafford.
The signs have have been put up by the Cancer - Not for Profit campaign group, calling on Cameron & Hunt Estate Agents to stop the sale.
The way services are managed in the county are being overhauled, with 10-year contracts worth £689 million and £535m up for grabs. Campaigners reacted angrily to the move and dubbed it as 'privatisation by the back door'.
The bidders for the contracts include Virgin Care LTD and the American owned United Health.
Resident Angie Burns, who lives in Queensville Avenue and has one of the signs outside her home, said: "More than a hundred households across Stafford are delivering a clear message by raising 'Stop the Sale' signs in protest over the sell-off of their health services and David Cameron's refusal to veto the NHS.
"Not only is the government selling off the NHS they are putting it at risk of irreversible privatisation. We expect our local MP to call on Cameron to ensure he uses his veto in Europe to protect the NHS."
Gail Gregory, spokeswoman from Cancer - Not for Profit, added: "We have serious concerns about some of the bidders for this contract."
She added that since 2012, almost 70 per cent of NHS contracts put up for sale have gone to the private sector.
Eight streets in Stafford have put up the signs. They include Queensville Avenue, St Georges Road, St Leonards Avenue, Christopher Terrace, Tixall Road, Harrowby Street, Dartmouth Street and Cull Avenue.
Other companies to be shortlisted include CSC Computer Sciences Ltd, Interserve Investments, The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust. and Health Management Ltd.
Health chiefs say all the organisations were subject to rigorous scrutiny and evaluation during the first stage of applying by teams including clinicians, commissioners and patient champions and representatives.
The procurement process will run until summer 2015.
Andy Donald, chief officer for Stafford and Surrounds and Cannock Chase clinical commissioning groups, previously said the aim of the controversial move was to deliver the 'best possible' cancer and end of life care for patients in Staffordshire.