Lewisham hospital staff joined the tens of thousands of protesters who marched on Saturday in protest against proposed NHS cuts that could see two-thirds of hospital services cut back by 2020.
Staff and campaigners from Lewisham hospital will be directly affected by these cuts as Lewisham is one area where cuts are due to be made.
The Lewisham contingency was organised by the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which focuses on Lewisham hospital and other NHS services in the borough. The campaign was set up in 2012 when the Lewisham accident and emergency was facing closure.
Services are under threat again due to £20bn worth of cuts scheduled by 2020 by the Government and this march was thought to be the largest yet in support of the NHS, attracting around 250,000 people.
Councillor Alan Hall, chair of the scrutiny committee at Lewisham council, was amongst the protesters from Lewisham hospital and said: “The NHS in Lewisham is one of the biggest, and most loved institutions. We need the NHS, everyone uses it and no one can be without it. Not enough people are protesting, and so here we are today.”
JoiningHall and the other Lewisham protesters was William Chaste, a priest from All Saints Blackheath, who said he believed the NHS was integral to British society. He said: “I’m here because the NHS is precious, the NHS is a sign that our society is what it is, it’s the best of our society. But it’s under huge threat and I’m here to say this is England, this is Britain, this is what we’re here for, and this is here to stay.”
The Lewisham protesters gathered at Russell Square and marched together to Tavistock Square, the official start of the march, where thousands of other protesters and the first speakers of the day met them.
As the protesters marched to parliament where more speakers waited, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, they sang chants, such as: “No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts” and “Hey ho, Hunt has got to go” voicing their discontent with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Video: Yuvan Kumar, Imogen Lodewyke