Socialist Worker

NHS protests can force Tories back

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2248

Medical students have been a key part of the fight for the NHS  (Pic: Smallman )

Medical students have been a key part of the fight for the NHS (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Tories are in crisis over the NHS. There is significant opposition to health secretary Andrew Lansley’s plans to hand over services to his fat cat friends.

So much so that the government has been forced to make numerous signals about its readiness to retreat.

Students, campaigners, NHS workers, trade unionists and MPs are now preparing to ram home their advantage.

They are backing a London demonstration against the government’s health bill on Tuesday 17 May.

Frank Dobson and Steven Timms are among the Labour MPs supporting the protest.

“Our medical student union is supporting the demo. We hope to win others to do the same,” Krishna Sivakumaran, a third year student at University College London told Socialist Worker.

“There is so much anger at Lansley’s proposals. Our student union survey found that around 80 percent of us oppose the bill.

“Lots of medical students think that the needs of the patient and the profit motive are incompatible.”

Krishna says the perception of medics as not interested in politics is wrong and that many at his college were inspired by the student protests last year.

“Most of us want to be doctors because we want to help people, not because we want to be rich,” he says.


“There’s a group of around 20 activists here building for the protest.

“We are postering and emailing as well as leafleting lectures and halls of residence. The only limit is the number of leaflets we have.

“We know from the NHS protests earlier this year that medics at other colleges feel the same as we do.

“So we are planning to take the message to them too.”

March organiser and leading NHS campaigner Candy Udwin says support for the protest is growing by the day.

“Keep Our NHS Public groups and hospital campaigns from across the capital have initiated this,” she says.

“But we’ve had a lot backing from MPs, unions and anti-cuts groups too. The Unite union has pledged its support, as have other unions.

“This campaign needs to include health workers, but it should also go far beyond them as everyone uses the NHS.

“There are going to be public meetings in many parts of the capital in the run-up to the demo.

“We’ve printed 100,000 postcards to help publicise it and want them distributed at hospitals, health centres and to every trade union in the city.

“The government is on the backfoot and, if we get this campaign right, we could see the end of Andrew Lansley and his hated bill.

“Let’s start turning up the pressure.”

Demonstrate to save the NHS, Tuesday 17 May, 5:30pm, University College Hospital, Gower Street, London WC1 for a march to the Department of Health, Whitehall.

Health workers should wear their uniforms.

London NHS campaigners are organising the following protests:

  • Save Connaught Day Hospital, Thursday 28 April, 5pm, Whipps Cross Hospital, Waltham Forest
  • Say no to cuts to Lewisham child and adolescent mental health services, Tuesday 26 April, 12 noon. Kaleidoscope Children’s Centre, 32 Rushey Green. SE6.

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