Protesters are gathering on Gower Street in central London today to protest against the Tory assault on the NHS. The protest, called by the People's Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, is in response to the NHS winter crisis that has been caused by years of Tory budget cuts and privatisation.
Sara, a student nurse in London, has experienced the depths of the NHS crisis first hand. “Patient safety is being compromised,” she told Socialist Worker. “There’s always not enough staffing on the wards, we can't do our jobs.
“Nurses feel undervalued and angry about what’s going on.”
There was a sense of urgency about fighting the Tories assault. Sara said, “The NHS is one of the greatest achievements by the people—we need to defend it straight away.
“If we leave it for a bit, then it will be too late with all the privatisation.”
Andy has recently qualified as a nurse in east London. “We’re being stopped from doing our jobs,” he told Socialist Worker. “You go into health care because you want to help people, but the cuts mean we can’t do that.
“They took away our bursaries when we were students, now there aren’t enough staff.”
People travelled from across Britain to demonstrate.
Andy, who travelled from Bristol to join the march, joined the Labour Party during Jeremy Corbyn's first leadership election in 2014. “ The main thing is to kick the private companies out of the NHS,” he told Socialist Worker. “We need to get rid of PFI, renationalise it and put it fully back in public ownership. Today is going to be a visual voice to the government. We need a socialist government and I think there's hope in the Labour Party.”
Fran, a politics student from Birmingham university, said the NHS is an issue she “really cares about”.
“I’m meeting my mum here today and she’s a nurse,” Fran told Socialist Worker. “I feel the NHS is at breaking point and we’ve got to give it all we’ve got.”
Fran said the attacks on the health service are a class issue. “The Tories are neglectful of working class people and they think people can just pay for healthcare,” she said.
“I think Jeremy Corbyn is the solution, I’ve got a lot of faith in him.”
The Tories are using racist scapegoating of migrant workers and patients to try to distract from the real causes of the NHS crisis. They are trying to make it harder for migrants to use and work in the NHS with new rules and charges.
Isra is part of a delegation of migrant doctors, who came to protest over “unfair English testing” “I’m a fully qualified doctor, I can communicate with patients, doctors and nurses,” she told Socialist Worker
“I know how to do my job, but they’re saying I have to be tested on literature and history. I need my voice to be heard, that's the why I’ve come on my first demonstration.”