Thousands of people have marched in Washington to protest against president Barack Obama's healthcare reforms.

The protesters also attacked Mr Obama's administration for what they called out-of-control spending on healthcare, the stimulus packages and the bailout of the banking and car industries.

The demonstrations came as the US president sought to boost support for his plans during a Minneapolis rally.

Mr Obama said he would not allow ‘special interests’ to use old tactics to keep things the way they are.

He insisted he was open to ‘different ideas’ from across the ideological spectrum, but he pushed back hard against his opponents.

‘We've heard scare tactics instead of honest debate,’ he said.

Mr Obama urged Americans not to pay attention to ‘scary stories’ about how Medicare benefits will be cut under his healthcare reform effort.

Many Americans are wary of the need for reform because they have health insurance through their employers, and Mr Obama has said repeatedly that his programme would not force them to change their insurance or doctors.