ANTI-CUTS campaigners across the county are staging co-ordinated rallies this weekend to protest against what they perceive as the privatisation of the NHS.

Activists who have been fighting a campaign to ‘Keep Gloucestershire’s NHS public’ will be holding demonstrations in Stroud, Gloucester, Lydney, Cinderford and Coleford this Saturday, June 16.

The countywide action has been planned by protest group Stroud Against the Cuts (SATC) in conjunction with anti-austerity groups from Cheltenham, Gloucester and the Forest.

Organisers say they hope hundreds will attend the rallies, which are intended to intensify pressure on Gloucestershire’s health bosses to keep services within the public sector.

Members of Stroud Against the Cuts are opposed to the possibility of a competitive tender process, which would allow private sector companies to bid to takeover the running of health services in the county.

James Beecher, chairman of Stroud Against the Cuts, said: "When private companies come in to run public services, public accountability is removed, and services are cut to bolster profits.

"If we’re going to stop our local community health services being run by these or similar companies we need to raise our voices.

"We urge people to attend this week’s rallies if they can."

The rally in Stroud will begin at noon this Saturday in the car park of the town’s hospital.