Thousands of people marched from Waterloo to Downing Street on 18 May to protest closures and privisation of London’s health service.
Defend London NHS brought together local anti-closure campaigns that including IHOOPS and Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition. Other Islington groups included: the Trades Council, NUT, Islington North Labour Party and the BMA’s Islington division.
Defend Whittington on the march
Some other campaigns and organisations included hospital campaigns in Lewisham and Lambeth, Hammersmith Charing Cross, Keep our NHS Public, Unite the union, RMT, Coalition of Resistance, Unison’s University College Hospital, Green Party, Royal College of Nursing, GMB, Hackney North Labour Party, National Health Action, Socialist Party, and North East London Council of Action.
People gather near the South Bank
At a rally on Whitehall, keynote speaker, Unite’s regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh, called on people to use civil disobedience to defend the NHS.
He said: “It took civil disobedience to end apartheid. It took civil disobedience for women to get the vote.”
He also pointed out the greed of some Parliamentarians who voted for first reading of the ConDem’s Health and Social Care bill last month. He said that 140 members of the House of Lords who voted for the bill were shareholders in companies that will benefit from it if it becomes law.
Another speaker, Hammersmith MP, Andy Slaughter, said that Ealing Council has applied for a judicial review on the proposed closure of four Accident and Emergency units in Charing Cross, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Ealing hospitals.
Islington MP, Jeremy Corbyn called for the scrapping of PFI and privatization in the NHS. He also called on people to campaign against government proposals for mental health services.
Islington MP, Jeremy Corbyn and Unite’s Peter Kavanagh
London Assembly member for the Green Party, Darren Johnson, told the audience that Boris Johnson was heckled for two hours for his support of the proposed closure of LewishamHospital when he took part in a People’s Question Time in Catford in March.