NHS demo | Photo: Tom Griffiths NHS demo | Photo: Tom Griffiths

Tom Griffiths reports on a show of strength for the NHS in its 75th year

This was a lively and sometimes moving demonstration which including a tearful minute’s silence for Covid victims at the start. 

It was called by the SOS NHS coalition which brings together a wide range of campaign groups and unions.

Photo: Tom Griffiths

It was called to demand that the government act now to end the extreme crisis in the NHS, a crisis causing hundreds of unnecessary and preventable deaths every week. 

It was also about showing support for all striking NHS workers – and it included an unofficial RCN bloc and large contingents of angry nurses, midwives and junior doctors. 

Photo: Tom Griffiths

The many thousands of protestors were addressed by MPs and politicians from the Labour Party, Green Party and Sinn Fein, leading trade unionists and strikers and from campaigning groups including Keep our NHS Public, NHS Staff voices and the People’s Assembly.

Speaker after speaker talked of the necessity to ramp up the campaign to defend the NHS. Dr Tony O’Sullivan from Keep our NHS Public insisted that the ‘current tragedy unfolding before our eyes is 100% the fault of the government’, Jeremy Corbyn MP made it clear how important the strikes are to the fight to protect the NHS, calling everyone to join the Junior Doctors’ picket lines on Monday.

Holly Turner from NHS Workers’ Say No insisted that we must be absolutely clear that the NHS crisis is not really an economic crisis, but a political one, ‘the fact is’ she said, ‘the money is there and the rich are getting immeasurably richer in our society’.

Rob Delaney and Holly Turner. Photo: Tom Griffiths

The marchers expressed solidarity with Gary Lineker by singing the Match of The Day theme tune as the march got under way.

Many speakers referenced the Gary Lineker affair and there was widespread recognition that the Government was trying to distract people with racist politics from the NHS crisis and the wider crisis across society. John Rees from the People’s Assembly pointed out that the massive support for Lineker showed that the government can be isolated when we fight back.

The demonstration was a very clear rejection of that racist rhetoric and was a huge show of strength and solidarity among NHS workers for each other in struggle. 

Photo: Tom Griffiths

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