We Were Legions! NHS Demonstration Draws over 200,000

Dr Eric Watts, DFNHS Chair, talks to a professional rival!

The ‘It’s Our NHS’ march on 4 March drew at least 200,000 people to central London to call for the destruction of the NHS to stop. Doctors for the NHS was there, setting out from BMA House to be part of the multitude.  On a day that saw the weather hold back the rain until the rally in Parliament Square was ended, hundreds of thousands from all walks of life, ages, parts of the country and occupations drew together to say: ‘Enough. Stop ending our NHS’.

Eric Watts, DFHNS Chair, was there:

“A good day out at the march on Saturday; ‘death’ is played by  John, of Save our NHS Sussex. It was great to see so much support from people who have benefitted from NHS treatment. A reminder of the perils of the insurance based system came from talking to a doctor who has a father in USA needing aortic valve surgery. It took his insurers 18 months to agree to the op. So they don’t have to wait long once the surgeon has agreed to operate, but convincing them that the cash is assured takes longer.

“As always on marches some good banners and costumes one, against a background of $ and £ signs read ‘ NHS is for the Needy not the Greedy’ and one good costume was a dinosaur outfit with the slogan ‘Don’t let the NHS become extinct’.”

Speakers ranged from crowd-rousing Jeremy Corbyn and Len McLusky, General Secretary of Unite, to DFNHS and Keep Our NHS Public member Dr Tony O’Sullivan, to comedian and commentator Dr Phil Hammond, and Dr Gurj Sanhu’s impassioned pleas as an Emergency Consultant, with many more.

DFNHS EC member Dr Colin Hutchinson, suitably attired, and colleague

Media attention was very good overall; even the stalwartly Conservative Daily Mail gave a good report on the following Monday, describing the marchers as ‘peaceful protesters’. DFNHS’s Communications Manager Alan Taman worked with People’s Assembly’s Ramona McCartney and Save Lewisham Campaign’s Vicky Penner to yield the press attention.

One exception was the Guardian, surprisingly, which did not run a report on the Monday even though it had trailed the meeting on the previous Friday. Eric Watts pointed this out to them in a letter, which they have now published:

“Up to 250,000 people marched on Saturday to show support for the NHS and focus on its underfunding in the run-up to the budget. It would help the cause for the Guardian to have reported it in Monday’s paper. May I inform your readers that photos and stories are on websites such as Our NHS, Keep our NHS Public and Doctors for the NHS?”

  • A full report of the march will be included in the March issue of the DFNHS newsletter.

 

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