Winchester health campaigners lobbied their MP over controversial changes to the NHS.

An 18-strong group spoke to Mr Brine at the discovery centre before decamping to his constituency office.

Residents of Winchester, who are members of the campaign group 38 Degrees and including several NHS and ex-NHS workers, handed over a petition to the MP who sits on the health bill’s scrutiny committee.

Kate Macintosh, one of the campaigners, said: “The Government has focussed on what seems the most patient-friendly and easy aspects to understand, namely that GPs will be in charge of an £80 billion budget for care.

“In reality those commissioning services will be more distant from patients, as local primary care trusts will be replaced by far larger clusters of consortiums, some run by the same managers expensively sacked and re-employed, but more by private companies.

Ms Macintosh added: “If this bill is passed I am extremely pessimistic for the survival of universal healthcare in the UK. There is no political mandate for this privatisation by stealth.”

Mr Brine said: "I am always happy to hear from constituents and get views on the policies of our Conservative/Lib Dem coalition, nowhere are they more passionately held than when it comes to the NHS.

"Conservatives and Lib Dems are coming together in Government to strengthen the NHS for future generations. That future includes a rapidly ageing population, a drugs bill that is growing by £600m a year and patients who demand more choice and control than ever before.

"In my view there are parts of the Health Bill that need strengthening, around patient involvement and transparency of new GP consortia for-instance, and I continue to argue my case within Government.

“These reforms maintain a National Health Service, free at the point of use for all but we hope with much better health outcomes across the board for those of us who fund it through our taxes."