Defend the NHS march brings Brighton to a standstill

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell leading the march
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell leading the march

A colourful and noisy NHS march brought Brighton city centre to a halt.

Doctors, health professionals, members of local political parties and campaigners joined in the protest yesterday, Saturday, January 21, and were cheered on by shoppers and cars honked their horns in support.

The march was organised by Sussex Defend the NHS and coincided with the Labour Party’s National Campaign Day for the NHS.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell took time out to help lead the march behind the big Sussex Defend banner at the front.

In a statement a spokesperson for the group said: “Up at Brighton Station, Labour’s Mr McDonnell echoed Sussex Defend the NHS’s reasons for the march - the Government’s policy of underfunding, under-recruitment and engineering of the present crisis in the NHS.

“And not least in Brighton where our county hospital is in special measures, we’ve had the shambles of a privatised patient transport service, where another GPs surgery has just closed, taking the total in the past year across the city to seven.

The event saw a number of speakers

The event saw a number of speakers

“John McDonnell said how the only reason our health services is still going is because of the fantastic extra work being put in by all the staff in our hospitals and right across all the services from doctors and nurses, to drivers, cleaners and support staff.

“Speeches from health workers told how they are struggling to cope, how morale is being devastated by impossible targets and lack of funding.”

Campaigners spoke passionately against the Government’s policy and future plans called Sustainability and Transformation but which members of the group are now labelling ‘Slash, Trash and Privatise’.

Janet Sang, from Sussex Defend the NHS said: “These plans mean nothing but cuts and closures: £860 million is going from our region, hospital beds will be reduced, we are being kept out of hospitals and staff will be cut.

“We are marching today to tell our council to reject these plans before it’s too late and instead insist that our NHS is run properly and funded to do the job that it was intended to do - to provide a universal and comprehensive health service based on need. ‘

Upcoming events from Sussex Defend the NHS:

Stand Up for Our NHS Benefit Gig Friday, February 10, Latest Music Bar, Manchester Street, Brighton. Tickets from www.eventbrite.co.uk

The Wrecking of our NHS and How to Fight it free public meeting is on Thursday, February 16, St. Georges Church, Kemptown BN2 1ED.

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