On Saturday 3rd February, a group of activists from West Suffolk Labour travelled to London to take part in an incredible day of protest for the NHS...
As reported by the People's Assembly:
60 thousand marched through central London on Saturday for more beds, more staff and a fully funded NHS, free at the point of service.
The #FundOurNHS march in London featured blocs from Huddersfield to Bristol to Southend, and rallied on Whitehall with speakers including Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth – who promised to end cuts and privatisation, reverse the Health and Social Care Act (2012), scrap the pay cap on NHS staff and restore training bursaries – and actor-turned-NHS-advocate Ralf Little, who said the decline of the NHS “is not inevitable; it’s a political choice".
Nurse and campaigner Jacqui Berry told those gathered in Whitehall, “the crisis in the NHS is the new normal, and it is a crisis that is politically manufactured. We're working in a system that has set us up to fail".
Saturday’s mass mobilisation must have given significant confidence to health workers and their unions (many were present) – showing the huge scale of support they could receive - should they consider strike action over the next year, as many in the movement hope they will, when they receive annual pay offers.
It's now time to look ahead to the massive 70th Anniversary of the NHS this summer when we will be calling for a fully funded free at the point of use, publicly owned and publicly run NHS for another 70 and more years to come!
Our Women's Officer, Clare, gave us her take on the NHS crisis:
We marched in our tens of thousands to demand an end to austerity and its strangulation hold on our NHS Services. With the scrapping of nursing bursaries, we have seen a downward decline in the number of people wanting to take up the profession. Many nurses are already struggling to study and to feed themselves. This is outrageous. We need to attract and retain nurses, they work so hard, doing demanding, long shifts and still some have had to go to food banks just to survive! Not only is this in unacceptable, it’s completely unnecessary.
Hospital waiting times are longer than ever and some A&E departments have wait times of up to 12 hours. Lack of beds and staff, due directly to government funding cuts, are causing a crisis in the NHS, you’ve certainly heard about it and some of you may have experienced it. Operations cancelled and scans and tests taking weeks and even months, referrals and assessments - all taking too long, even our paediatric services and children’s teams such as ADHD and autism - all with impossibly long waiting lists and a backlog that has built up.
Labour are the one serious Party making the challenge to this Tory government to do better. Will you support us?
There is a serious GP crisis manifesting in Haverhill, right now. Seeing the effect that this has had on local residents was an extra motivator for our members to attend the march.
We teamed up with the Suffolk People's Assembly to travel down to London by coach, for what was a truly amazing event. The demonstration was full of fantastic people - nurses, doctors, teachers, care workers, unions, citizens and children, different groups and individuals, all marching with a common goal - to save our NHS.