Health workers across London protested in Whitechapel yesterday against proposed NHS reforms.
Doctors, nurses, medical students and patients got together outside the Royal London Hospital to demonstrate against the government’s Health and Social Care Bill.The bill will give GPs a much greater say on how the NHS budget is spent and release hospitals from central control. An independent board to oversee services will be created. Those who oppose the bill are concerned the changes will end in “privatisation” of the NHS.
Poppy Redman, a second year medical student at UCL, said: “We don’t want the reform because we don’t want to work for an NHS that is going to allow private companies to take care of the services just because that is the easy thing to do. And also when we graduate we may not be able to get enough training because the private health care services will not have the obligation to train us, so maybe we are not going to reach the minimal level of competence required.”
Chanting against bankers and gathering signatures, the health workers were also opposing the 630 jobs and 100 beds which are set to go across Barts and The London NHS Trust, the £15m of cuts set to be made at the Homerton Hospital and the 120,000 job cuts faced by the NHS.
Jackie Turner, an east London GP and member of the Health Worker Network, said: “I’m here because I’m very concerned about the cuts in the NHS and about the direction the health bill is taking, and I’m really worried about patient care.”
Mike Marqusee, a cancer patient said: “I’m terrified about the impact of these cuts on my treatment. My survival depends on this hospital being fully functioning. I’m here to stand with the staff, because they have been so fantastic to me.”
The bill recently passed its second reading in the House of Commons, and has now gone to the Committee stage. MPs will vote again at the bill’s third reading after the Committee reports back.
After the demonstration outside the hospital, the health workers marched through the City to Barts Hospital.
The Health Workers Network is calling for a new protest on March 16 outside Camden Town Hall.
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Audio by: Jo Barratt