Protestors marched in their thousands on Wednesday of last week to oppose cuts to health services in Worthing, Sussex, and the surrounding area.
The planned cuts are part of a wider national picture. Trusts across the country are facing growing deficits as money pours out of the NHS into the hands of privateers who are profiting from health care.
In Sussex, where the crisis is particularly acute, the strategic health authority is threatening to close Worthing and Southlands hospitals. Up to 10,000 marched from two ends of Worthing to protest against these attacks.
Hospital users from across Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham and surrounding areas were joined by large contingents of hospital and health workers - many marching behind Unison and GMB union banners.
Worthing Keep Our NHS Public supporters handed out several thousand leaflets, kindly printed by the local GMB branch, putting our case for an NHS in public hands.
The demonstration, one of the biggest in the town’s history, converged on the Pavilion Theatre for a public meeting, with the Steyne park acting as an overspill for the thousands who couldn’t squeeze into the theatre.
The public meeting was a wonderfully angry and rowdy affair.
It was addressed by strategic health authority chief executive Candy Morris and her sidekick Steve Phoenix, who repeatedly tried to justify service cuts, or even possible hospital closures, by waffling on about “moving care closer to the patient, even to their home”.
Morris, who earns a salary approaching £200,000, was heckled and booed throughout the meeting, and looked visibly shaken by the end.
Two local Tory MPs, Tim Loughton and Peter Bottomley, also spoke. The MPs have played a role in the local campaign, although many activists still remember the terrible damage done to the NHS by the Tories.
Worthing Keep Our NHS Public is arguing that the campaign must represent hospital workers and patients who came out in such force yesterday. It needs to be an open and accountable campaign.
We must keep up the pressure by organising more protests and meetings.