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Thousands join angry London march for the NHS

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Issue 2353
Health workers, patients and activists came to Downing Street for the NHS today
Health workers, patients and activists came to Downing Street for the NHS today (Pic: Luca Neve)

Some 7,000 health workers, trade unionists and activists marched through London today, Saturday, to defend the NHS. Health workers came from Bristol, Brighton and Newcastle to join the protest.

Katie, a children’s nurse, told Socialist Worker, “We need more staff to improve care.

“People are leaving the NHS because they can’t cope with the amount of patients.”

Adam works at London’s St Thomas’s Hospital. “Staffing cuts lead to longer waiting lists and longer stays in hospital,” he said.

“We haven’t been able to provide all the support patients need.”

Delegations from the Unison, Unite, GMB and RMT unions joined the protest, along with the Royal College of Nursing.

As they passed a Barclays bank, activists unfurled a banner reading, “Barclays PFI bleeding the NHS dry”.

Liz , who provides counselling to child patients and their families at a central London hospital, was on the march. “We have the time for special therapeutic work,” she said. “But now they’re cutting wages and replacing us with less skilled play workers.”

Every speaker at a rally outside Downing Street called for a national demonstration to defend the NHS. They included Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Slaughter, and Green London Assembly member Darren Johnson.

Anne Drinkell, a district nurse and Unison member, attacked politicians who have tried to divide workers and patients. “They’re playing a political game talking about health tourism and trying to blame immigrants for cuts in the health service,” she said. “The health service only works because of all the people in it who come from all over the world.”

Candy Udwin from London Keep Our NHS Public told the crowd, “There’s a perfect storm of cuts, closures and privatisation. We need to forge a national campaign and we need leadership from the trade unions and the Labour Party.”

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