Hartlepool health group members join mass NHS march in London

From Left; Pauline Hope, Gemma Rhead and Angela Hughes of Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital in Parliament Square
From Left; Pauline Hope, Gemma Rhead and Angela Hughes of Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital in Parliament Square
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Health campaigners from Hartlepool joined a mass march in London in support of the NHS.

Members of Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital joined tens of thousands in the national demonstration in the heart of the capital on Saturday.

There was a huge turnout for the national demonstration in London against cuts to the NHS

There was a huge turnout for the national demonstration in London against cuts to the NHS

Reported numbers of those taking part vary from 100,000 to 250,000.

They included Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, unions, frontline NHS staff and children.

Among them was Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital campaign group members Pauline Hope, Gemma Rhead and Angela Hughes.

Mr Corbyn urged the demonstrators to “defend the NHS with all of your might”.

Demonstrators on the march in London

Demonstrators on the march in London

He told them in a speech in Parliament Square: “Defending the NHS is defending a basic human value and a basic human right.

“You don’t walk by on the other side when somebody is in difficulties or needing help.

“The NHS is in crisis, in crisis because of the under funding in social care and the people not getting the care and support they need.

“There are those waiting on trolleys and those who are desperate to get into an A&E department waiting hours for treatment.

“It is not the fault of the staff. It is the fault of a Government who have made a political choice.”

Organisers said the demonstration was particularly needed because austerity in the NHS represented a real risk to the safety of patients and the service.

Messages on home-made banners read “SOS England’s NHS” while messages such as “NHS4Ever” were written on T-shirts, bags and umbrellas.

Junior doctor and GP trainee Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya said the NHS “in reality faces £26 billion of health and social care cuts due to political decisions”.

Speaking on behalf of the British Medical Association, he told the crowd: “What is sustainable about debts that can only be paid with our patients’ health and yet still won’t be settled?

“Where is the transformation when the money to build new hospitals and health centres is being siphoned off to pay debts?”

Police said there were no arrests made.

A Health Department spokesman said: “We are committed to the NHS which is why we’re investing £10 billion in its own plan for the future, including £4 billion extra this year to transform services and improve standards of care.”