Anger at Tory attacks on the NHS is fuelling protests to beat them back.
Over 1,000 people marched to defend children’s heart services at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester last Saturday, chanting, “Save our Glenfield, save our kids”.
NHS England announced a consultation to axe the unit by April.
Bosses say the unit does not meet clinical standards, but campaigners slammed this as a smokescreen.
Kirsten Lynch came with her daughter Poppy, who’d had open heart surgery at Glenfield. “The surgeons did a tremendous job and the results have been excellent,” she said.
“I don’t know if that would have been the same outcome if we’d had to travel up to three hours further.”
Local groups are organising against the 44 regional Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) that would axe hundreds of hospital departments and services across England.
Health campaigners in west London organised an open-top bus tour of local hospitals last Saturday, to build support for a national demo in defence of the NHS on 4 March.
A growing number of local councils are refusing to sign off on the STPs.
Stephen Cowan, Labour leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, joined campaigners at Charing Cross Hospital.
He told Socialist Worker, “Not only is the plan wrong, it is part of an attack on the whole NHS.
“We’re one of the first councils to say, ‘No, full stop’ to the local STP. Councillors have a crucial role to play in this fight.”
Called by Health Campaigns Together, the demonstration is now backed by the Unison, Unite and GMB unions and the People’s Assembly.
Other trade unions and the Labour Party should support and build the demonstrations.
As Jim from the west London campaign told Socialist Worker, “Right across the country campaigns are springing up. We want to use 4 March to galvanise and bring all these people together.”