Protesters rally in the snow to support the NHS
Following from successful movements and protests across the country Coventry Keep Our NHS Public organised a protest to protect our NHS on the 3rd of March. Protestors, including many Socialist Party members, gathered at the walk in centre on Stoney Stanton Rd and marched towards Broadgate – calling on the government to increase NHS funding and to scrap PFI contracts. Despite the cold and snow, there were over 60 in attendance and there was great support from the general public for the campaign, including many NHS workers.
At Broadgate speakers gave rousing speeches on issues affecting the NHS, explaining how the NHS ‘winter crisis’ is a symptom of poor funding and privatisation, and how the Tories deliberately allow this to continue. The rally was chaired by Jane Nellist, president of Coventry TUC. Vicky Horbury, organiser of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign, highlighted how Coventry’s health centre may be under threat, and how important it is to campaign for the NHS in Coventry.
Steve Score spoke about how campaigns against Tory health service cuts are important and how they can succeed. As chair of the successful campaign to Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre his insights were inspiring for protesters and set an example for a successful campaign. He argued that going forward there must be a united movement, and also that trade unions should increase their support of the junior doctors’ struggles. Similarly, Dr Louise Irvine, co-chair of Health Campaigns Together, spoke about leading the successful ‘Save Lewisham Hospital’ campaign, emphasising the importance of uniting patients and staff in mass organisation to challenge Tory plans to ‘downgrade’ the hospital. Raising tens of thousands of pounds, the campaign was able to successfully challenge the Tories plans and resulted in a great victory for local people. Both campaigns prove the importance of uniting patients and staff to effectively oppose the Tory cuts and prove that through organisation campaigns can win.
Alistair Smith, Warwick University lecturer in global sustainable development and UCU member, brought solidarity from the UCU amidst their continuing industrial action. He explained how education and health are both core parts of our society and how individualism has been pushed upon us at the expense of the many. The marketisation of health and education in tandem are symptoms of the same Tory ideology that sacrifices principal for profit. It was encouraging for all to see support and unity from wider movements for the NHS.
Dr Louise Irvine and Jane Nellist speaking at the rally
Socialist Party members also ran a stall, distributing leaflets and selling The Socialist newspaper as well the Socialism Today magazine. The amount of interest shown in our literature reflects the public’s appetite to oppose Tory attacks on the NHS, and that socialist ideas are key to this struggle. The Socialist Party will continue to support the Coventry Keep Our NHS Public campaign and to work with them on future events.