Socialist Worker

Thousands protest at Tories' NHS butchery

Strikes and protests can boost health campaigns—and push unions to call more action, says?Sarah Ensor

Issue No. 2351

Up to 5,000 marched through west London on Saturday of last week

Up to 5,000 marched through west London on Saturday of last week (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Some 3,000 health workers in Yorkshire are set to vote on strikes this week against attacks on their jobs and pay.

The Unison union members’ branch-wide ballot follows successful strikes by around 500 medical secretaries and admin staff in Mid Yorkshire.

The Tories want to dismantle and privatise the NHS. 

But health workers and others keep showing that it is possible to resist the assault.

Up to 5,000 people marched in west London last Saturday against health cuts.

They are fighting to defend A&E, maternity and children’s services at Central Middlesex, Charing Cross, Ealing and Hammersmith Hospitals. 

Campaigning has saved cancer services at Charing Cross, but the hospital still stands to lose 400 beds.

Marchers chanted and danced on the protest from Southall park to Ealing common.

Protester Margaret Stoll said the NHS was “too important to let go”.

An ambulance worker said the service “will find it very difficult to manage if the changes go through”.

The protest comes only a week after up to 30,000 marched in Stafford against privatisation and closures.


Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has been declared bankrupt. 

The administrators, including consultants Ernst & Young, will be paid millions for their part in the cuts. 

Previous marches to defend the NHS and health workers have attracted big numbers. 

Up to 30,000 demonstrated in Lewisham, south east London, in January while 1,000 marched in Bristol last year.

Raj Gill is a leading campaigner in the Ealing Save our Hospitals campaign.

He told Socialist Worker, “There should be a national demonstration for the health service. 

“The call needs to go out from the unions but also from the TUC.”

The response from the unions representing health workers has so far been inadequate.

The government has launched a ferocious attack on union members’ pay and conditions. 

It has imposed tens of thousands of job losses.

Yet unions have failed to call national strikes or even call a national demonstration to defend the NHS.

But the potential is there to build resistance.

A number of health campaigns, unions, councillors and others have called a London-wide protest for the NHS on 18 May.

They include Ealing Southall Constituency Labour Party, the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign, the Unite union and Kingston GMB.

Health workers and others from Newcastle, Bristol, Brighton and Manchester have booked transport to join the march.

The London demonstration can help galvanise the opposition to the Tories—and put more pressure on unions to call action to stop their attacks.

Defend London’s NHS—Save Our Hospitals, No to Privatisation, Saturday 18 May, assemble 12 noon, Jubilee Gardens, Waterloo, SE1

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Tue 30 Apr 2013, 16:34 BST
Issue No. 2351
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