Amid the winter crisis, “tens of thousands” of protesters descended upon Gower Street to demand more funds for the NHS. The #FixTheNHS march, which took place on Saturday 3rd February, was organised just months after an independent consortium reported that the English healthcare system would face a £26.2 billion shortfall by 2022. Organisers behind the protest claim that this is the result of a manufactured political crisis, and they demand that the government recognises its own accountability when it comes to NHS underfunding.
Braving the rain, protesters marched to Downing Street to hear speakers from regional organisations hoping to save their local hospitals. Tamsyn Bacchus from Lewisham said that she feared that British healthcare would become a privatised, unregulated user-pays service. Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth, who also spoke at the march, blamed government austerity for one of the worst winters in NHS history. Even when US President Donald Trump tweeted that the NHS was broken beyond repair, Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt responded by promising “universal [health] coverage, where all get care no matter the size of their bank balance.”
The protest took place just hours after the Daily Mail Online reported that an emergency patient is planning to sue University College Hospital (UCH), which is associated with the University of London, for failing to keep them safe. Sarah Jane Palmer, a King’s College graduate, was sexually assaulted last year by a fellow patient after being told to “take a pillow and sleep in a hallway” due to bed shortages. In relation to the assault, the Daily Mail warned its readers that incidents in hospital corridors are becoming less isolated, with “unprecedented winter pressures” making the situation worse.