A THOUSAND people in Brighton marched in defence of the NHS on Saturday as part of a series of nationwide events for Labour’s National Campaign Action day.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell joined the demonstration in the city centre, a vigorous response to the announcement of plans to amputate £800 million from the NHS budget for the Sussex region.
Sussex Defend the NHS spokeswoman Janet Sang told campaigners: “We are marching to tell our council to reject these plans before it’s too late.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined similar gatherings in the Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central constituencies ahead of by-elections next month.
The party’s candidate for the Copeland election, former doctor Gillian Troughton, campaigned alongside Mr Corbyn and shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth.
Voters in Stoke-on-Trent Central “won’t be fooled” by Ukip candidate Paul Nuttall, Mr Ashworth said.
Mr Nuttall — who has championed the privatisation of the NHS and the introduction of a US-style health insurance system — confirmed he would stand in the by-election triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt.
Campaigners accused Prime Minister Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of denying the scale of the problems besetting the health service in refusing to acknowledge the recent British Red Cross warning that there was a “humanitarian crisis” within the NHS.
Mr Corbyn slammed Ms May for being totally “out of touch with the reality in our hospitals.”
She had claimed there were only “a small number of incidents” that were of worry, despite record numbers of patients being turned away from A&E departments last month.
And campaigners warned that NHS England’s harsh sustainability and transformation plans (STP — “slash, trash and privatise)” will exacerbate the crisis, slashing £22 billion from NHS funding.
Former shadow transport secretary Lilian Greenwood joined activists in Nottingham city centre, where campaigners dressed in scrubs and carried a symbolic NHS on a stretcher in a graphic portrayal of the crisis the service is in.
Campaigners took to the streets in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where nearby Hinchingbrooke Hospital has only recently been taken out of special measures. A damning report by the Care Quality Commission had found serious failings there when it was run by privateer Circle.
A national demonstration called by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together, backed by Unite, GMB and local NHS campaign groups, will take place in London on March 4.