Helena Nicholson reports on Saturday’s demonstration in London, where thousands turned out in defence of the NHS and against Tory austerity and privatisation.
On Saturday 3rd February, 60,000 protesters in London braved the rain to march to Downing Street in support of the NHS.
The demo was organised by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and Health Campaigns Together, in response to this year’s winter crisis. Hospitals, patients, and NHS staff have seen chaos, as years of devastating cuts, privatisation and chronic under-staffing come to a head. Once again we are seeing the human cost of the Tories’ destruction of our public health service.
Saturday’s demonstration comes on the back of nearly a decade of Tory austerity and encroaching privatisation within Britain’s healthcare service.
Protestors demanded the reinstatement of nursing bursaries to help with the staffing crisis, as well as full public ownership of the NHS and increased funding.
This shows that the movement to #SaveOurNHS is linked to the campaigns for free education and nationalisation of the railways and utilities, as well as the general opposition to austerity. All of these demands have become mainstream under Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.
The campaign to defend the NHS, therefore, is just one manifestation of the growing movement against this destructive Tory government. This, in turn, is part of the broader movement for a Corbyn government and socialist policies.
The Corbyn-led Labour Party offers an alternative to the austerity and privatisation that have led to the dire situation we have seen in the NHS this winter. We therefore need to build on the momentum going forward in order to bring Corbyn to power on a socialist platform.
The anger and passion of Saturday’s protesters shows that people are willing to stand up and defend our NHS and public services in the face of the Tories’ attacks. The atmosphere was one of hope and optimism, in sharp contrast to the infighting and chaos of May’s government.
At the same time, we need to show solidarity with NHS workers who are fighting to defend our healthcare service. This means supporting strikes and industrial action by healthcare workers, in order to protect working conditions and ensure the safety of all patients.