Health workers and their supporters have been holding local demonstrations across the country in protest over cuts in jobs and services.
The national day of action was organised by NHS Together, a combination of unions and local NHS staff groups. The protests aim to highlight that services are under increasing threat from budget deficits and privatisation. NHS workers protesting in east London told libcom.org that their workplaces have already seen many cuts and that more were in the pipeline, while staff in Brighton said that on top of nearly 20% of the workforce already being cut, retiring and leaving staff are not being replaced putting pressure on remaining staff to take on extra workload to compensate.
Demonstrations were set to take place in many towns and cities, including Sheffield, Preston, Brighton and several areas of London. The two lively east London demonstrations began at local hospitals facing cuts before gathering at Hackney town hall for a rally attended by around 300 people. Demonstrators were keen to stress the national scale of these cuts and related them to the increasing privatisation of the health service.
The BBC reported that
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber was expected to tell a rally in Sheffield that the government is in danger of "squandering" the political credit it has earned for its investment in the NHS.
He said people were telling pollsters that the NHS had not improved since Labour came to power, although their own experiences of the NHS were positive.
Mr Barber is set to say: "We have a message to the cynics and opponents today. Stop trashing the NHS - join with us in celebrating the achievements - not just of doctors and nurses but the whole health team.
"This government should be getting much of the credit for this better NHS... but it is in danger of squandering the political credit it deserves, and it is running out of time to put it right."