Socialist Worker

Protesters lobby MPs and form ‘human chain’ to defend NHS

by Dave Sewell and Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2293

Protesters are joined by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (left) to form a human chain around St Thomas

Protesters are joined by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (left) to form a human chain around St Thomas' hospital (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Around 300 health workers and NHS users formed a human chain around parts of St Thomas’ Hospital in central London today, Wednesday. The action was part of a day of events to stop the Tories’ health and social care bill.

Zoe is a speech and language therapist for adults with learning difficulties. She said, “I’m already seeing the impact of what the government is doing on the people I work with.” Zoe is in the Unite union and travelled to the protest from Coventry.

“Clearly the NHS is the next thing on the Tories’ agenda,' she said.

“They want to make it for those who can afford it. People who are disabled, on low incomes or have long term problems won’t be able to get care.

“And it terrifies me to think that people will only realise this when it’s too late.”

And 75 year old Margaret Everest told Socialist Worker that she “might not be alive now if not for the NHS”.

“I remember how happy everyone was when the NHS was set up,” she added. “Before that it had cost half a crown to see a doctor, and people just didn’t have it.

“The MPs who are messing with the NHS don’t understand what that’s like—they can all afford to go private.”

Privatised

Chanel is a laboratory scientist at the hospital, which is directly across the river from parliament. “Already our service has been partly privatised,” she said.

“They keep telling us that we’re a company and our bottom line is to make a profit. Then they say that patient care is a priority. But the two things kind of contradict each other.”

The protesters marched over the bridge to parliament, where they joined crowds of health workers for a mass lobby of MPs organised by the Unite union.

Poppy Brooks came to the lobby from Southampton. She works in the NHS. “I think the bill will be terrible for patients,” she told Socialist Worker. “The health service will be broken up into competing, profit-making groups.

“Some things, like hip replacements, will be profitable. But if you’re an elderly woman with pneumonia, it won’t be profitable to treat you. If you’re a woman having a baby, you won’t be profitable.

Mark, a private sector Unite rep from Basildon, said, “They talk about competition and choice. But quite frankly if I’m in the back of an ambulance I’ll have better things to think about than looking at charts and figures of which hospitals are the best.

“The NHS should be of the highest standard for everyone, in every hospital.”

And Mike Langley, a Labour councillor from Bristol, added, “We need mass action to stop the bill. We need to be on the streets and get people mobilised.”


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