Socialist Worker

Health workers on march for the NHS

by Yuri Prasad and Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2243

Health workers hold a

Health workers hold a 'die-in' during the Day X for the NHS protest (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Angry health workers and students took to the streets of London last week in a protest against cuts and Tory threats to privatise the NHS.

Student nurses and medics, many dressed in blue or white scrubs, joined the 1,000-strong march outside the Royal London hospital in east London.

Together with doctors, nurses, and an array of therapists, they took to the streets chanting “public health, not private wealth”.

Claire, Catherine and Lauren, first-year nursing students from City University, said they joined the march to protest against plans to replace staff nurses with healthcare assistants.

“We’re marching because of the effect it’s going to have on patients. Lots of treatments can only be provided by nurses.

“Less nurses mean patients waiting longer and getting frustrated. We’ve got to get the message across that this is the fault of the government.”

The demonstration marched through the financial district to Bart’s hospital. Most passers-by smiled or clapped in support.

But from high up in the glass-fronted banks came jeers from small groups of men in suits.

One Deutsche banker has been suspended from work following the protest. He was photographed taunting demonstrators with a £10 note.

One protester told Socialist Worker, “It’s our NHS and we’re going to fight for it. This is the first protest I’ve been on, but we have to fight together against these cuts.”

Joseph, a second year medical student from UCL, told Socialist Worker, “I’m completely against the market ruling the health service.

“It’ll end up being like an airport—you’ll get British Airways in rich areas and Ryanair and Easyjet in Tower Hamlets and Hackney.”

The protest was organised by the recently-formed Health Workers’ Network. Everyone hoped that the march would be the first of many.

“We’ve got to turn the anger we’ve seen this evening into a lasting campaign that wrecks the Tories’ plans.” said Anna Livingstone, a health campaigner and local GP.

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Article information

Tue 15 Mar 2011, 18:46 GMT
Issue No. 2243
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