Maghull Labour Councillors have warned that new changes to local health provision will mean when it comes to the NHS "you either use it, or you lose it".
Sudell Ward Labour Councillors Lynn Gatherer and Patrick McKinley and Maghull Town Council Labour Councillor Maurice Byrne attended a public meeting last week on the future of the NHS in Sefton.
The Talking Health and Wellbeing in Sefton presentation was held at Maghull Town Hall. More than 30 people attended.
Cllr Byrne said while he was encouraged by Sefton's plans to improve health provision in the borough, he was concerned at the Tory-Lib Dem NHS reforms.
Cllr Byrne said: "Sefton Council has devised some excellent plans to ensure that people are given the opportunity to influence NHS provision in the borough and to respond to the concerns and issues which Sefton residents want.
"Priorities which have been raised by Sefton residents include combating social inclusion, supporting the vulnerable, ensuring everyone has access to good quality treatment and here in Maghull, priorities included ensuring there is a welfare rights advice and ensuring good quality family housing is available.
"Respondents in Maghull also reiterated the need for a walk-in centre in the town.
"But as with all of these plans, I have grave concerns with how we can ensure Sefton's plans are implemented in light of the Tory-Lib Dem NHS reforms.
"Under the reforms, control of health provision locally is in the hands of the new Clinical Commissioning Groups which come into operation on April 1. CCGs are made up of our local GPs.
"What we need to ensure is that these CCGs commission services from the NHS and not private businesses. We as patients need to demand that services which we are offered are services which are being provided by the NHS. If we don't, and the private companies become the preferred providers for health services, the NHS will quickly wither and die.
"We will end up with exactly what this government wants: a privatised health service which is paid for by the tax payer."
Cllr Gatherer said she was also concerned that the NHS reforms will result in the death of the National Health Service.
Cllr Gatherer said: "Campaigners have been asking the CCGs who will be responsible for commissioning our services to ensure that the NHS is always the preferred provider of health services. As yet I haven't heard anyone give that assurance.
"This will lead to the end of the NHS as we know it. The NHS was established in 1948 by a Labour government to ensure care is provided at the point of need to everyone from cradle to grave. The NHS reforms which we are seeing are taking away the core principles which the NHS was built on and putting profit at the heart of the health service.
"We know from the consultation findings that people want a walk-in centre here in Maghull. But the Tory-Lib Dem real term cuts to NHS funding mean that is going to be a lot more difficult to deliver."
Cllr McKinley said he was confident that people would urge their own GPs to use NHS services.
Cllr McKinley said: "It is crucial for the survival of the NHS that Clinical Commissioning Groups, in other words GPs, continue to commission services from the NHS.
"If CCGs start to commission services from private providers, then there will be less money going to NHS providers. The NHS, local hospitals and clinics, will eventually struggle to continue to provide those services and they will be forced to close down.
"We will end up with whole hospitals and clinics facing closure.
“I have genuine concerns about the apparent lack of robust external scrutiny with the CCGs. This is especially relevant because all GPs who are involved in the CCGs are essentially private companies. They are not social enterprises and there are concerns that patients will be given poor treatment and cheaper drugs if the cost of the patient in questions affects the GPs' 'bottom line'. We must remember here that we are giving millions in public money to private GPs' practises, with apparently little external scrutiny.
"As NHS users and as tax payers we need to stand by the NHS and not allow it to be broken up and privatised to the highest bidder."