|Volume 53 Number 8, March 18, 2023
On Saturday March 11, thousands demonstrated through the streets of London to show their support for the NHS and for health workers striking against the attacks on their livelihoods. The demonstration, which maintained a very positive atmosphere and was also visually stunning, represented something which is, and has been, central to our society - maintaining a fully-funded and universal public health care system with everyone having the right to health care.
The ruling elite imagine that they can impose their corporate agenda and dismantle hospitals and the health care system, privatising these public services with their US companies and billionaire friends taking over. They imagine that they can take away people's right to health care bit by bit and make people pay for this crisis in the NHS that they have created. However, the demonstration showed that the movement of health workers and the people as a whole is as strong as ever to turn the tables on the government and ruling elite. It is a movement of health workers and people in their communities to take over the decisions on protecting and developing the publicly owned health care system. With the continued strike struggles of nurses, ambulance staff and now junior doctors, who took strike action for three days this last week, the fight for change is now on.
The demonstration formed up at 12 noon at Warren Street in Tottenham Court Road with a rally at the start of the march. It then marched on to Whitehall, stopping outside Downing Street for a final rally at the end of the march. Dr Tony O'Sullivan, founder of the SOS NHS coalition, which organised the march, said: "There is a tragedy unfolding before our very eyes. 500 avoidable deaths every week on the NHS emergency pathway. The government is 100% to blame. I have never seen such a crisis of low morale amongst health staff - pay NHS staff properly now and repair this current crisis."
An article published by the organisers, I am a junior doctor - enough is enough by Aislinn Macklin-Doherty, a junior doctor , pointed out: "Working in the NHS now can feel very much like being put onto a ship after it has hit an iceberg... Our industrial action is a demand for action. A message that we will tolerate this poor treatment of our service, ourselves and our patients no longer. We all deserve better." She concluded that the dominant feeling was "enough is enough", and said that the "enormous amounts of money the Government found very quickly during the COVID pandemic for PPE, Track & Trace, and for investment in companies with close ties to Government have not gone unnoticed by us in a service where we are constantly fed the line 'there is not enough' - when there clearly is. It is just constantly earmarked for profitability and not for public service."
The demonstration was an important contribution in the building of the organised strikes and struggles of the working class and people - from railway workers, health workers, education workers, civil services and many others - to defend their pay and conditions and the services they provide. It has also played an important role at a time when people in every area are continuing to build the fight to defend their health and other services. This is all part of the whole movement of the working class and people that Enough is Enough!
The demonstration showed that people are setting their sights on the goal of being in control of their own lives and the health, education and other public services that meet their needs. The unprecedented strike actions are confronting the government, which is refusing to stop championing the rich and at the same time refusing to meet the needs of the people who provide our health and public services. It is the people's programme to stop paying the rich, and that instead the wealth created by all of society should be invested in the peace and the social well-being of all.
Now is the time for working people to strengthen their organisation, stand firm and speak out in their own name, with their own outlook and programme as events unfold.
1. I am a junior doctor - enough is enough - March 15 2023