A RALLY to save the NHS is being held in Barnsley on Saturday amid fears that the poor could be forced to forgo hospital treatment in future - because they cannot afford it.

Tony Wright, spokesman for the South West Yorkshire Parthership branch of UNISON, said health chiefs fear the new health act passed by government could end up being the death knell for the NHS.

A leaked government document has already revealed that there are fears the bill could lead to increased privatisation that would result in paying patients being treated first.

He said: "We want Barnsley to join in and show that we do not agree with what's going on and that we shouldn't accept it. We aren't scare-mongering but people should be told what could go wrong. We could end up being like America where any health care has to paid for - that's a very real possiblility the way things are going.

"Some people just don't realise how this will affect them. It could end up with Barnsley Hospital being run by a private company - and in a couple of years, if you break your arm, the first question they ask is for your health insurance. If you don't have it, you won't get seen."

The controversial bill was developed to give more control to clinical commissioning groups who can 'buy' in patient care from companies. Already Virgin Care has scooped a contract worth £500milion to take over the provider arm of NHS Surrey - but there are fears that private companies would put profit first..

Tony added: "Before NHS hospitals could only treat around 12 percent of private patients. But now that has been raised to 49 per cent. That would be nearly half of all hospital beds gone for private, paying patients. Everyday men and women who don't pay for healthcare will be pushed to the back of the queue.

"It's all down to money - at the moment the NS treats everyone. But if you get private companies coming in they have shareholders to answer to. It's a ticking time bomb because suddenly it isn't about patient care it is about profit."

The Save Our NHS rally will start from Churchfields at 10am and head into the town centre. There will be speeches from Dan Jarvis, MP, Angela Smith MP and GP Kailash Chand, the Manchester GP who ran a petition that got over 170,000 signatures in a bid to stop the bill from going through.