A national march to raise awareness about the perceived privatisation of the NHS passed through Hucknall yesterday.
The 300 mile People’s March for the NHS from Jarrow to the House of Commons has been organised by a group of Darlington mums “concerned and outraged” by the Government’s reforms of the Health Service.
Leonie Mathers, Labour’s candidate for the Sherwood constituency in next year’s general election, joined the march and was delighted with the response from local residents.
She said: “I’m proud that so many people from Hucknall came out to support the march and show how concerned and angry they are about Government cuts to the NHS.
“Local people are rightly worried that mental health wards in the area are being threatened with closure, that GP services are stretched to breaking point, and that waiting times at A & E keep increasing.
“Some people believe that activism is dead. The conversations I have had with people from Hucknall before and during the march prove otherwise and demonstrate that people want to stand up and fight for their NHS.”
Alice Grice, Labour Councillor for Hucknall added: “The event was a huge success. The support from local residents and NHS workers was really positive.
“The people of Hucknall have sent a clear message - they do not want to see the NHS privatised under any circumstances.”
Sherwood MP Mark Spencer did not join the march, but said that he fully understood that people were anxious about any changes to the NHS.
He said: “This Government cares deeply about the Health Service which is why its budget has been protected, unlike in Labour controlled Wales where cuts have been made to health care with catastrophic consequences.
“I must stress that this is not privatisation in any way. It is simply carrying on the process of allowing carefully selected healthcare companies to take certain NHS services, this brings waiting times down and saves the NHS money.”
The walk, which goes through 23 towns and cities on its way to the capital, draws inspiration from the famous Jarrow Marchers of 1936, who campaigned against the high levels of unemployment and poverty suffered in the North East of England at the height of the Great Depression.
This time, the protest focuses on raising awareness about how the coalition has “dismantled and undermined” the NHS, and aims to force the Government into repealing the Health and Social Care Act.
The march left King’s Mill Hospital at 10am, passing through Kirkby and Annesley before arriving at George Street Working Men’s Club in Hucknall at 1pm.
From there, the march went through Hucknall and Bulwell, and arrived at the Forest Recreation ground in the early evening.
More information about the march, its route and how to get involved can be found at http://999callfornhs.org.uk/