Up to 5,000 people marched through Leeds today, Saturday, to say “save our NHS” and oppose the Tories' cuts and privatisation of the health service.
It was organised by a number of groups including Keep Our NHS Public.
It was an upbeat and positive atmosphere and loud chants of “whose NHS? Our NHS!” rang out in the streets. People applauded as the protest went through the city with many joining in.
Health workers and trade unionists from the Unison, GMB and Unite unions joined the march with their banners and flags.
Andy, a Unison regional officer for health in north Lincolnshire, said there was “a great atmosphere and there are many trade unionists here”.
The attacks on the NHS mean there are massive cuts to funding and growing pressures on NHS staff.
Leeds Labour Party councillor Sharon Hamilton told Socialist Worker, “This issue touches everyone—we have to keep funding it and we have to fight for it.”
People from many different campaigns from Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and other areas mobilised for the march.
Zahra Satti, a 14 year old student at Bradford Academy studying health and social care, said that “it’s a really good turn out—it’s really important to raise awareness about the attacks on the NHS”.
Teacher Emma told Socialist Worker thought it is “disgraceful what the government is doing to the NHS”. She added, “We have to stand up for what we believe in and in education privatisation is coming in too.”
Andy said, “The NHS is being set up to fail so that they can privatise it.”
Leeds Stand Up to Racism (SUtR) had a young and lively contingent chanting “migrants built the NHS”. Student Miryam said, “People recognise there is scapegoating going on with the cuts to the NHS, but without migrants there wouldn’t be an NHS.”
The cuts are putting people’s lives in danger. The government is trying to divide people with racism to push through privatisation but the thousands marching in Leeds was a good antidote to that and the kind of action we need more of in the fight to save our NHS.