Written by Mia Thomas

There’s not many things I would get out of bed for at 7.30am on a Saturday, but the future of the NHS is definitely one of them. And luckily I am not alone in this – as the 8 coaches that left from Bristol this Saturday proved, and indeed the 200,000+ people that gathered from all over the country in London to protest the underfunding and systematic dismantling of this beloved institution.

It hits our headlines so often now that we are in danger of becoming desensitized and blind to headlines about NHS cuts, A&E’s in code black, months long waiting lists and distressed healthcare professionals. But as these problems become old news, nothing is being done to help our failing healthcare services, which is why a huge national protest was so important. We have to keep up pressure on the Tory government to stop their targeted destruction of the NHS, we have to let them know we care about our services and we will not watch them be stripped away without a fight. We have to show solidarity to each other as we all campaign for, and work within, the NHS.

There was an incredible feeling at the march, everyone getting to know everyone around them, people giving away free cake and lunches at the side of the road, chanting and cheering and singing. Along with the obligatory “NHS hands off it, it’s for people not for profit” (lead largely by the merry trio of Bristol Medsin-ers! Safe to say all of our voices were scratchy and sore on the way back home!) there were a lot of people on megaphones getting cheers for different groups working within the NHS – from nurses to physios to admin. This sense of celebration of the people struggling under the cuts was what really stood out and what is really important – one of the greatest dangers we face is loss of morale and it was fantastic to see a sense of pride being bestowed on the wonderful people that make up the NHS. One placard summed this up saying “NHS workers, we see you, we appreciate you, thank you”.

Who knows how far the anger of the day will filter through into the houses of parliament, but bringing it back to the public’s attention and bringing us all together was a wonderful thing. Thank you to everyone that organised the march, to everyone who came and most importantly thank you to every person who works in our public healthcare service – cleaners, porters, admin, kitchen staff, HCA’s nurses, doctors – and keeps the wonderful NHS running despite such a significant lack of support from our government.

The only disappointing thing to see (or rather not see) was the lack of young people. We all need to stand up and fight for this! We cannot sit idly by as people that have benefitted from the NHS their whole lives sell it off. As my own (less heart-warming and eloquent) placard said “F*ck off my future”… the NHS is ours. We need to stand up for it. And there are easy ways to do this!

  • Get involved with the Medsin NHS National Working Group to meet dedicated people all over the UK working for a long lasting free nationalised healthcare service. Email pad@medsin.org
  • Get involved with local Save our NHS campaigns.
  • Join the “People’s Assembly” – not just NHS focussed but an amazing anti-austerity movement who are really active in many cities.

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