A CAMPAIGN to protect the NHS from being sued by big American corporations is gaining momentum in Worcester - with around 200 people signing a petition over the weekend.
Banner-waving protestors, led by Councillor Lynn Denham, were out in force down the city's High Street on Saturday drumming up support.
The campaigners are all members of the 38 Degrees pressure group battling to persuade the Government to refuse to sign an emerging blueprint called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The agreement is a US-EU deal aimed at encouraging more free trade, but it will give large corporations more powers to sue entities like the NHS if they fail to privatise some of the services on offer.
It will also allow corporations to sue the Government if it makes changes to the law which affect businesses' profits - like raising the minimum wage.
Backers of the trade deal say it will encourage more private sector investment in public assets, but critics insist it will weaken market regulation and allow for sweeping privatisation.
The ultimate goal is to remove US-EU regulatory barriers which restrict the potential profits of transnational firms on both sides of the Atlantic.
Cllr Denham, who represents the Cathedral ward in the city centre, said: "We did get a lot of signatures, we filled about four of five sheets of A4 paper, it was approaching 200 signatures and that was on top of the flyers we were handing out.
"One lady I spoke to works in the NHS and took flyers away with her to take them into work.
"There was huge concern over companies being able to sue the NHS, and not just that but the TTIP allowing big American companies to sue our Government over legislation which doesn't go in their favour.
"There needs to be more protections put in place."
The TTIP is yet to be ratified but nations across the EU are looking to debate it with a view to making a decision by the end of 2014.
France is considering opting its health care system out of any agreement, amid concerns similar to those expressed across the UK.