Campaigners against health cuts united hospital consultants with student nurses and healthcare assistants in a 300-strong demonstration outside the Royal London hospital in east London last week.
Bosses at the Barts and London NHS Trust say they will axe 630 posts—including 250 nursing jobs—as part of an “efficiency drive”. But that they do not expect compulsory redundancies among frontline staff.
Angry workers disagree. “How can they get that number of job losses without losing vital staff?” said one community health worker. “They can’t.”
The size and militancy of the protest surprised even activists in the local Keep Our NHS Public group, which had organised it.
Health worker Rachel Eborall said, “When someone got on the megaphone and chanted, ‘let’s block the road’ we all did—including the doctors! We blocked the traffic.”
Rachel says that the take up for the protest is a sign that NHS workers are crying out for something to be done about the cuts.
“My Unison branch fully backed the protest, despite it not being initiated by the union,” she said.
“It circulated information about it to everyone. When I went in to work there were already leaflets there, and people asked me if I was going.
“I can’t recall anything similar happening before. This is a taste of things to come.”
Speech and language therapists in Southwark, south London, who are fighting cuts that threaten a third of their jobs, are linking up with health workers in neighbouring Lambeth.
Bosses are planning to merge some children’s services in the two boroughs.
Activists in the Unite union are hoping that more workers can be brought into the battle.
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