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UK Politics

Footballer backs online NHS petition


Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand has tweeted his support for Labour's campaign to stop Government reforms to the NHS.

The Premiership football star, whose mother worked as a nurse, took to Twitter to back a mammoth online petition against the coalition's controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

Ferdinand tweeted: "Great work guys in crossing 100k for petition to Save NHS. Keep pressure to get 250k so sign."

His endorsement of the Drop the Health Bill petition to his two million followers on Twitter, was quickly picked up by Labour - but not without a hitch.

Ed Miliband tweeted back, "Thanks for support on £dropthebill. I give you my word, if they go ahead, this will be a defining issue of the next election."

But the Labour leader, whose football allegiance lies with the player's former club, Leeds United, initially spelt the name of Ferdinand's account as "riofredy5" instead of the correct one "rioferdy5".

The spelling error was too much for some tweeters, who deluged Miliband's twitter account heaping scorn on his second "twitterfail".

Mr Miliband recently tweeted about the death of Bob Holness who he said would be remembered for his TV show "Blackbusters" - causing an eruption of derision.

The e-petition calling for the NHS plans to be scrapped has now reached 140,000 signatures, and is still climbing, which could force MPs to debate the issue in the House of Commons.

Mr Miliband today visited the Royal Bolton Hospital in Greater Manchester, accompanied by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.

Mr Burnham said Ferdinand's support was "fantastic".

"It's not about celebrity endorsPat Hurstement," he added.

"The message it sends is that this campaign is not a political campaign, it's about people from all walks of life who recognise that the NHS matters.

"I think it's brilliant that people of his stature make those statements and I think he's done the NHS a great service today."