Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas joined doctors, nurses and campaigners to discuss their concerns about the NHS.
More than 200 people attended the Sussex Defend the NHS meeting at St George’s Church, in St George’s Road, Kemp Town.
As well as the Green MP Caroline Lucas, the speakers included Zoe Adler, an intensive care nurse at the Royal Sussex County Hospital who spoke for Doctors of the World operating in Brighton for migrants and refugees.
British Medical Association junior doctor representative Todd Leckie also spoke along with mental health nurse Stephen McLean and Danielle Tiplady, a student nurse from the national Bursaries or Bust campaign.
The campaign has gathered more than 100,000 petition signatures urging the government not to scrap the bursary for student nurses at a time when the profession has staff shortages.
Other speakers included Mitch Alexander, from the Save the Willows campaign, which tried to keep open a GP surgery in Bevendean. The Practice Willow House is due to close on Friday 16 September.
And Charles Harrity, from the GMB union, spoke about the “shambles” of the patient transport service contract which has switched responsibility for non-emergency ambulances to a company called Coperforma.
At the start of the meeting Madeleine Dickens, from Sussex Defend the NHS, said that, as the fifth richest country in the world, we can afford our NHS – and we own it.
The meeting was told about the work of Brighton University lecturer Carl Walker. Dr Walker started the Brighton Citizen Health Surveys.
Ideas to protect services and for ways to take action were discussed as those at the meeting on Thursday (30 June) shared their fears.
Sussex Defend the NHS said: “Optum (US United Health) now controls GP hospital referrals, the privatised Patient Transport Service is in chaos, The Practice (private GP chain) is pulling out because there’s not enough profit, leaving 10,000 patients without a GP (and) dedicated mental health wards have closed.
“And today, children and young people’s NHS services are being put out to tender, health visitors are being replaced by cheaper nursery nurses and services for teenage parents axed.”