Tens of thousands of people marched through London in defence of the NHS on Saturday, culminating with a rally in Parliament Square and a speech from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The organisers of the #ItsOurNHS march described it as a rallying call to save the health service as “more austerity in the NHS represents a real risk to the safety of patients and the service.”
The Labour leader told a larger than expected crowd that the current crisis in the NHS had been “made in Downing Street” and criticised the Tory government for cutting taxes for the rich, and for the “fat cats.”
“The money’s there,” he said. “Don’t let them tell you it isn’t.”
He told the crowd: “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 Labour leader repeated calls on Chancellor Philip Hammond to use next week’s budget to guarantee funding for the NHS and for social care.
He said: “The NHS is in crisis, in crisis because of the underfunding 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.”
Campaigners held signs criticising the notorious Vote Leave campaign promise of £350m a week for the NHS. Others highlighted the fact that 40,000 EU nationals currently work in the NHS, including 10,000 doctors, who are yet to have their right to remain in the UK guaranteed by the government.
Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership remains under considerable pressure, with Labour activists in Copeland now citing the party leader as the main cause of their historic by-election defeat last month.
Labour’s campaign in Copeland was centred on the NHS, highlighting planned Conservative cuts to the local maternity unit, with one activist telling Business Insider that ‘with a different leader we would have won.’