Around 5000 people, led by health workers and student health workers, took to the streets of London on Tuesday May 17 on a demonstration called by Keep our NHS public, to send a noisy message to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley that his proposed sell-off of the National Health Service is completely unacceptable.
This was a vibrant protest, starting with a rally outside University College Hospital and chanting as it passed through the packed streets of central London and gaining interest and support from passers by, some of whom joined the march, while others clapped as we passed by or smiled when they heard the slogans defending the principle of a universal, free and comprhensive health service.
As we moved into Whitehall a couple of American tourists stopped us to find out why we were protesting. When we explained that the Tories were trying to bring in a system close to the disaster that currently exists in their country they were clear that they supported us.
Many on the march were workers in the health service or long term campaigners on this specific issue but there were also many banners from borough anti-cuts campaigns and some trade union banners and flags.
The NHS is undoubtedly the most universally popular part of the welfare state – for all activists campaigning against cuts and privatisation, in defence of jobs, conditions and pensions defeating Lansleys pernicious bill needs to be a key target.