The successes of recent NHS campaigns are making waves across the country, giving confidence to the public, patients and workers to fight back against unjust proposals.
In September 2017, there was a victory for low-paid domestic workers at Barts Trust in London. In February 2018, there was a victory for campaigners in Mansfield, who fought back against plans to close Chatsworth Neuro-rehabilitation ward. In May 2018, two and a half years battling to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary won an important victory when the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that the proposals to downgrade the HRI were “not in the best interests of the people” and directed the Trust to bring forward a new plan.
Here in Leicester a mass campaign forced NHS England – and the government who hide behind them – into a retreat on the planned closure of Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre. Last Saturday’s monster demonstration in London represented the coming together of these (and many other) campaigns to show to our Government that we will not stand idly by while they destroy our NHS.
The best part of one-hundred people travelled down from Leicester to join the march. A big thank you goes out to Unite the Union for booking the first coach, but thanks also go to our own dedicated campaigners at Save Our NHS Leicestershire who dug deep into their own pockets to help finance a second coach.
Health Campaigns Together estimated that around 50,000 braved the searing heat to march in London. Speaking from the main stage the new Secretary of Health Campaigns Together, junior doctor Aislinn Macklin Doherty, said that each and every person in attendance should see themselves as a ripple that can spread the message to defend our health service. From small ripples we can “make waves and get bigger, and louder, and grow stronger, and then there will be an overwhelming tidal wave demanding that our NHS be brought back into public ownership; publicly provided, publicly delivered, and accountable for all!”
The main message of the day was that when we unite and campaign together, we can succeed.
Shadow Health Secretary and Leicester South Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth promised that Labour would oppose all privatisation of the NHS. But to ensure that this happens we will need to be organised in our millions – on the streets and in our workplaces and trade unions – to help enable any future Government to reverse the decades of privatisation that our health service has endured.
When Jeremy Corbyn closed the rally with the question: “Do we have the absolute determination that we will go to the ends of the Earth and beyond to defend our National Health Service?” The crowd answered in unison with a resounding “YES, YESSSSSS!”
(Leicester features at 6.30 min)
Leicester Campaign Against NHS Privatisation will be holding a public rally to celebrate the 70 th birthday of the NHS at the Clock Tower in Leicester City Centre on July 5 at Midday. If you are free, be sure to join the party.