CAMPAIGNERS staged a protest outside of a GP surgery this week, calling on Romsey’s MP to ensure the NHS remains exempt from any future trade deals - who hit back by branding the demo an “ill-judged publicity stunt” during lockdown.

The protesters gathered around Abbeywell Surgery, The Abbey, on Wednesday urging MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline Nokes, to vote for an amendment to the Trade Bill to help safeguard the NHS when it returns to the House of Commons.

During the 2019 election, the previous Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, brandished ‘leaked papers’, claiming the US would use a future trade deal to force the NHS to pay more for drugs from American pharmaceutical companies.

However, the Conservative Party manifesto at the election stated when they negotiate trade deals “the NHS will not be on the table”.

The campaigners held a blue pipe around the GP surgery to show they want to continue to see the NHS protected by the Government.

Organiser of the protest, Tom Sissons, said: “I’m scared about the impact a trade deal could have on the health service that we all love.

“That’s why I’m standing up to say enough is enough.

“Our MP, Caroline Nokes must do the right thing, make Romsey an NHS trade deal free zone, and vote to protect our NHS from trade deals.”

In response to the protest, Ms Nokes said she was “shocked and disappointed” to discover the demonstration had taken place outside of the surgery amid a pandemic, labelling it an “ill-judged publicity stunt”.

She said: “I am determined our NHS will not be part of any trade deal with the US and have repeatedly stated that to constituents.”