Protesters have converged on Hartlepool to speak out in support of the town’s hospital and of their fears for the future of the NHS.
Both local health campaigners and those from across the country gathered in at the war memorial in Victory Square on Saturday in front of crowd waving placards
The Emergency Call 4 NHS event was organised by campaign group Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital, to campaign for greater use of the University Hospital of Hartlepool and wider issues.
Many were wearing T-shirts in support of the fight for Hartlepool Hospital, while others donned anti-government slogans, calling for the NHS to stay public.
Hart ward Coun David Riddle, of Putting Hartlepool First, spoke of his determination to stop privatisation of the health service.
Coun Riddle recounted how he, four years ago, was knocked down by a car while on holiday in the Dominican Republic, suffering serious injuries, including a fractured skull.
In terms of local battles, you need to research the people who are selling you outDr Bob Gill
He said : “I was on a crash trolley in the court yard of the hospital and there were questions they asked me before they even took me inside to see a doctor.
“The first question was ‘have you got insurance?’; and the second question was ‘is there a credit card in your wallet?’
“That is the cold, hard reality of health care in many countries.”
Dr Bob Gill, a GP, said: “We need to be fair, we need to be smart, and we need to stop people who are misleading us.
“In terms of local battles, you need to research the people who are selling you out – the management consultants.
“Find out who these individuals are, find out where they are getting paid and find out their conflicts of interest.
“Armed with that sort of knowledge you can effectively fight back.”
The Footprints March for the NHS march, will see supporters march between hospitals, to highlight how they claim the distances between them will put lives at risk, if services are cut.
The march arrives at Hartlepool Hospital at 5pm on Wednesday, October 26, having set off from Durham Miners’ Hall at 9am, taking in High Shincliffe, Coxhoe and Wingate.
A meeting will then be held at Hartlepool Rugby Club at 7pm, featurings peakers on NHS issues as well as entertainment, before the march continues to Middlesbrough the following day.