Protesters wearing Richard Branson masks forced a Walthamstow shop to temporarily close ten years ago this week.

Health campaigners forced the temporary closure of a Virgin Media Store during a protest at the firm's involvement in the NHS.

The Waltham Forest branch of the 'Keep Our NHS Public' (KONP) held the demonstration outside the shop in the Selborne Walk Mall in Walthamstow on Saturday morning (April 21).

The manager of the shop briefly closed its shutters in response but the protesters, who wore masks of Virgin boss Richard Branson, dispersed shortly afterwards.

It comes following the Government’s Health and Social Care Act which allows GPs to commission services from companies.

Campaigners fear that private firms like Virgin prioritise their own profit above patient care and also accuse them of being inexperienced, claims they strongly deny.

Waltham Forest KONP chair and retired nurse Jim Fagan said: “We do not want patients to suffer as a result of the government’s reckless drive to hand over NHS services to the private sector.

“We are urging everyone to stand up for their NHS against the corporate takeover and tell Richard Branson to keep his hands off our healthcare.”

A spokesman for Virgin Care said: “We are a well-established provider of high quality NHS services across the country with a successful track record of delivering services that patients really value and that help strengthen the principles of the NHS.

“Since 2006, we have treated over 1.5 million patients offering improved accessibility, convenience, satisfaction and, most importantly, our services have delivered improved health outcomes – all at a better rate for the taxpayer.”