5 March 2017
On Saturday, 250,000 people took part in ‘Our NHS’ demonstration. Thought to be one of the biggest NHS rallies in history, the march comes amid warnings of an unprecedented crisis within health services, fuelled by £20bn worth of cuts scheduled by 2020. Organisers said the national demonstration was a call to arms for those who care about the NHS, as “more austerity in the NHS represents a real risk to the safety of patients and the service”.
The Green Party had a bloc of campaigners, with members from local Green Parties like South Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, joining the demonstration. More than 150 coaches brought campaigners and NHS workers from all across the country to take part.
The purpose of the demonstration is to bring back the NHS back from the brink and to reinstate it fully back to public ownership. Further details about the demonstration can be found here: https://keepournhspublic.com/. National Green Party Health and Wellbeing Spokesperson Larry Sanders spoke at Parliament Square at the end of the demonstration.
Larry Sanders said: “The government tells us there isn’t enough money, but this isn’t true. We are the fifth-richest country in the world – we have the money to stop our health service turning into a humanitarian crisis, and to care for people when they grow old: in hospitals, the community and homes.”
Those who marched from Tavistock Square to Parliament Square in Westminster, held up homemade banners with slogans including “We want our NHS back” and “The NHS for the needy, not the greedy”.
David Wrigley, a GP from Carnforth, Lancashire, and deputy chair of the British Medical Association council, was among the frontline staff marching under the slogan:
“Our NHS, No Cuts, No Closures, No Privatisation”.
He said the march was a cry for help because funding cuts had put the NHS in a desperate situation.
“Patients are not getting the care they deserve. We are a country that can afford the funding that is required,” he said.
The campaigners, who say the NHS is at breaking point, hope the march will put pressure on the government ahead of next week’s budget.
Wrigley said: “I guess it is also a wakeup call for Theresa May and the chancellor ... we demand they fund the NHS adequately. If the budget does not bring about any further funding increase, there would be uproar.”
Felix Ramos, 53, of Hackney, east London, summed up: “Many people are not going to get the help they need. Privatisation does not work; it is not going to care for the vulnerable.”