Posts Tagged ‘Save our NHS’

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka – 2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka: On Saturday 18th May 2013 I began work outside Parliament at a protest against Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then went across the Thames to the Festival Hall for the start of a march to defend the NHS before going the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a ‘murder scene’ in solidarity with hunger strikers at Guantánamo. There I also photographed a woman protesting for the release of her husband arrested 9 years ago by US forces in Iraq. Finally I met a march by several thousands of Tamils calling for and end to the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. You will find much more detail (and many more pictures) on each of these protests at links below to My London Diary.

End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when Israel was created, Palestinians call for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Several hundred people came to the protest, including a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism, as well as many of Jewish or Palestinian origin. As well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the protest was also supported by many other groups – a long list on My London Diary – and speeches were continuing when I left for another event.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

More about the Nakba and the protest at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing.

London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Thousands had gathered by the Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, including many groups opposed to hospital closures around London, trade unionists and others concerned the the government is ending the NHS.

An unprecedented coalition of Londoners, including medical staff, trade unions, health campaigners, patients and others have been alarmed at what they see as an attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

You can read more about the crisis in the NHS in 2013 in the post on My London Diary, but of course this has continued and is still making the news. Despite their protestations it seems clear that the Tories are trying hard to run down the NHS so that the population lose its trust and love for our universal free public – and would allow them to eventually replace it with US-style insurance based healthcare which would greatly increase costs and generate huge profits for private health companies.

I went with the march across Waterloo Bridge and down Strand to Charing Cross, leaving it as it was waiting to enter Whitehall for a rally there.

More information and pictures at London Marches to Defend NHS.

Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

As I arrived there were 8 black-hooded ‘prisoners’ in orange suits lying on the pavement, the number of prisoners who have died there in suspicious circumstances who had previously taken part in sustained hunger strikes. At least seven of them had the cause of death reported as ‘suicide’.

Other protesters drew lines around the bodies on the ground and surrounded the area with ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Enter‘ incident tape. The bodies then stood up and there was a short enactment of forced feeding by a man wearing an Obama mask.

Others held placards and posters, some including quotations from Thomas Jefferson and other historic and prominent Americans, and there were speeches about the events in Guantanamo, where British resident Shaker Aamer was still held despite having been cleared for release. You can read more, including a statement by one of the organisers, on My London Diary.

As I left some of the poems written in Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer were being read.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.

More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Also protesting outside the embassy as she has for a number of weekends was Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when held by them, and his now being tortured by the Iraqis. He is also on hunger strike. His young daughter Zeinab came and spoke briefly to the Guantanamo protesters, telling them that she wanted her daddy to be released.

Later she was joined by a small group of Muslim men and boys who stood with her.

It was a busy day for protests at at the US Embassy were a small group of supporters of Syrian President Assad, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who had come to protest against western intervention in Syria.

More about these protests at More US Embassy Protests.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

Finally I rushed away to join thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK who were marching through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. Many were dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka and some wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Tamils are disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place and is still continuing in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax. I noted on My London Diary that I could see no other non-Tamil photographers covering the event.

On My London Diary you can read a statement by the British Tamil Forum who had organised the march. I left as the rally in Waterloo Place was about to start, partly because I was tired but also because I thought few of the speeches would be in English.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.

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Save Our NHS – 4th March 2017

Monday, March 4th, 2024

Save Our NHS – The NHS was under attack by the Conservatives before it was established in 1948 and has come under repeated attacks since by governments of both major parties particularly since the 1990s.

Save Our NHS

Providing universal healthcare costs and the current financial year (2023/24) figure of £160.4 billion is around one seventh of total government spending of around £1,200 billion. So it isn’t surprising that governments should wish to see that the money is being spent wisely. But that isn’t was most changes in government health policy have been about.

Save Our NHS

Even with that large sum, the UK is still getting healthcare on the cheap. According to Statista the spending per person is less than in the US, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Australia, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Ireland and Finland and roughly the same as in Iceland and Japan.

Save Our NHS

It’s perhaps not surprising given this that we often hear reports which compare the results of NHS care critically with those in other countries. But those reports on the BBC and in the papers seldom if ever mention the poorer funding the NHS receives than many of those with better health outcomes.

Save Our NHS

The US spend per person is considerably higher than all other countries and roughly two and a quarter times that in the UK. But many of the NHS reforms made this century have been based on making our health system more like the American model, which would be a disaster. But it would mean a great opportunity for private healthcare companies, particularly some of those US companies, to make huge profits at our expense.

A surprising number of our MPs have had some financial interest in healthcare either through shareholdings or by sponsorships. The Daily Mirror in 2014 published a list of 70 MPs with links to private healthcare firms which included almost every leading Tory and some from other parties. As well as then Prime Minister David Cameron, they included Former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, responsible for the disastrous Health and Social Care Act 2012, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, former Health Minister Simon Burns, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith, William Hague, Philip Hammond, Sajid Javid, Oliver Letwin, Chancellor George Osborne, Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg and many other leading Tories, along with Lib-Dems then in the coalition government Vince Cable, Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes.

It’s these people who have introduced policies which have led to large areas of NHS services being provided by private companies, though still retaining the NHS logo and still providing services free to the public. But generally these are the kind of simple, straightforward services and the more complex areas are still left to the NHS.

There is still huge public support for the NHS, despite its problems some of which have been created possibly deliberately by government reforms to erode that support, though more clearly in a drive to make more of its services available to be taken over by private companies.

On Saturday March 4th 2017, thousands came to Tavistock Square, outside the BMA headquarters to march to Parliament Square in protest against the cuts and privatisation of the NHS which they said was at breaking point.

In particular they were protesting the Sustainability and Transformation Plans for hospital closures and cuts in services which had already caused many premature deaths. Doctors and other healthcare workers clearly saw these as a part of a rapid stealthy privatisation with medical services increasingly being run for private profit rather than public benefit.

In 2017 the STPs mutated into Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and in 2018 these were told to transform themselves into Integrated Care Systems which have now replaced Clinical Commisioning Groups. These plan, buy, and provide health and care services in there areas and are subject to inspection under 70 performance metrics and can be put into ‘special measures’.

According to the Wikipedia article “A report from the Nuffield Trust in December 2021 found that there was very little evidence that integration policies across the UK – including pooling budgets and creating new integrated boards and committees – had dramatically improved patient experience, quality of services or supported the delivery of more care outside of hospitals.” But clearly they had diverted a considerable amount of expertise, time, energy and money away from the real business of the health service – and funding towards private companies.

Estimates for the number on the march varied even more wildly than usual, but it was clearly a large march. My guess was perhaps 30,000 but it could well have been twice that if not the 250,000 the organisers claimed. All the pictures in this post come from the march and the rally before the start, and I was too tired by the time it reached Westminster to photography the rally in Parliament Square.

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Goodbye & Good Riddance – July & August 2023

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance – July & August 2023: Some more pictures from my Facebook albums for last year.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
Ealing Celebrates 75 Years Of The NHS. 1 July 2023.
Eve Turner, Ealing Save Our NHS, leads some singing. Campaigners from Ealing Save Our NHS celebrated 75 years of the NHS on the side of the main road in front of Ealing Hospital. Speakers called for a proper workforce plan, pointing out the failure of the recent government plan to recognise the realities of an overworked and underpaid system which has been deliberately run into the ground as a pretext for privatisation.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
Housing For Need Not Greed – March to the Aylesbury Estate, Southwark. 8 July 2023.
Marchers at the Elephant on their way to the Aylesbury Estate. This was one of 16 events across the country on National Housing Day. It demanded Southwark Council stop demolishing council homes and refurbish and repopulate estates to house people and end the huge carbon footprint of demolish and rebuild. They demanded housing for need not corporate greed, refurbishment not demolition, filling of empty homes and an end to the leasehold system.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
London Trans+ Pride March. 8 July 2023.
Many thousands of Trans+ and gender-diverse siblings and supporters meet in a wet Trafalgar Square and march to a rally at Hyde Park Corner in a day of trans, intersex, non-binary and gender nonconformity joy, rage and liberation in defiance of the attacks on their community and lives. The ‘Never March Alone’ day called for transgender freedom and equality in the UK and globally and honoured the memory of those killed for being trans.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
Speak Out Against British State Racism, Hammersmith. 15 July 2023.
Protesters from the RCG in Hammersmith against the Illegal Migration Bill hand out leaflets and collect petition signatures saying the bill is racist, scapegoating and criminalising migrants and asylum seekers, denying them their basic human rights. The government claims it is compassionate but shows no compassion, intending to imprison migrants regardless and deport them to Rwanda while failing to address the causes of migration.
Peter Marshall
Save Democracy in Israel, London UK. 30 July 2023.
A large rally in Parliament Square organised by members of the British Jewish community sends a message to the Israeli government rejecting their actions and supporting those protesting for the future of their country and children in Israel after the Knesset this week voted to abolish the Reasonableness Doctrine. They call on all who love and care about Israel’s future to defend Israeli democracy.
Peter Marshall
No To Nuclear War Embassy Walk, London. 4 Aug 2023.
Handing in a letter for the French Ambassador. Campaigners from France and Germany en route to the International Hiroshima-Nagasaki International Fast join British anti-nuclear activists in an “Embassy Walk” to the Russian, French, German Embassies and Downing Street calling on them to sign the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and get rid of their nuclear weapons. There were performances by Raised Voices choir.
Peter Marshall
London CND Hiroshima Day Commemoration. 6 Aug 2023.
Jeremy Corbyn MP holds up and reads from a mug commemorating peace campaigner Bruce Kent. 78 years after the US exploded atomic bombs at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagaski, London CND met at the Hiroshima Cherry tree in Tavistock Square to remember the over 350,000 people killed immediately or who died from the bombing in the next few months. Speakers called on the UK government to abandon nuclear weapons and sign the UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.
Peter Marshall
No To NATO No To War Rally. 6 Aug 2023.
A rally at Downing Street demanded Britain leave NATO and end support for its continuing proxy war in Ukraine. Speakers including journalists Tony Gosling and Patrick Henningsen, lecturer Niall McCrae and former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford outlined and gave evidence of its anti-Russsian activities since its inception, with Piers Corbyn ending his speech with climate denial, homophobia and ULEZ opposition.
Peter Marshall.

There were relatively few protests in August as many people were on holiday – and I spent some time away from London and protests.

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Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023

Sunday, December 31st, 2023

Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023 – The past year has certainly been an “annus horribilis” that puts 1992 into shame in that respect and it ends with an ongoing genocide on a scale that would have been unimaginable before the development of recent weapons as well as unthinkable.

Today’s post is a baker’s dozen of images I took in the first two months of the year, January and February 2023 at some of the twenty-seven events I photographed then. It isn’t a collection of my “best photographs”, though I’ve tried to pick some of the more succesful I’ve taken. All these (and many others) are still online in my Facebook albums and most if not all available for editorial use from Alamy. They are displayed in date order.

Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
London, UK. 18 Jan 2022. Nurses and other medical staff and supporters marched from a rally at University College Hospital on the first day of a two day nurses strike. Shocked by news of 500 avoidable deaths each day due to delays in emergency care they demand the government drop actions aimed at destroying and privatising the NHS and take urgent action to end staff shortages, including increasing pay and ending underfunding. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
London, UK. 21 Jan 2023. Iranians and supporters march through London with the slogan ‘Women Life Freedom’ in support of continuing protests in Iran following the death of Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police and demanding regime change. They condemned the continuing repression and arrest and hanging of protesters and called for the release of prisoners. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
London, UK. 30 Jan 2023. Enough is Enough UK and the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom protest at Downing Street as the Tories push their anti-strike bill through Parliament. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill has enraged trade unions and opposition MPs and is being debated by a ‘Committee of the whole house’ to rush it through without proper scrutiny and detailed debate. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
London, UK. Feb 4 2023. A crowd protested loudly by the private street leading to the Israeli Embassy as a part of a worldwide fight by Israelis to preserve democracy in Israel and oppose the inclusion in the government of criminals and religious bigots which they say is unacceptable. Many brought their children with them to show their love for Israel. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
London, UK. 11 Feb 2023. A police officer grabs a protester as Stand Up to Racism oppose the fascist Patriotic Alternative (PA) who came to try to end Drag Queen Story Hour UK events at Tate Britain with drag queen Aida H Dee. They rejected the PA claims that these story-telling sessions for parents and young children are “child grooming”, “paedophilia”, or in any way sexual. PA at the protest included several well-known former BNP members. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
Kashimiris protest at India House calling for an end to the military occupation by India by 800,000 troops. The called for freedom for Kashmir, for the release of political prisoners, and for the return of the body of Maqbool Butt, secretly hanged by India in Tihar Jail in 1984, to enable a dignified burial. Peter Marshall
Goodbye and Good Riddance 2023
11 Feb 2023. Iranians protest in London in support of continuing protests in Iran following the death of Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police and demanding regime change. They condemned the continuing repression and arrest and hanging of protesters and called for the release of prisoners and for a revolution to free the country from religious dictatorship. Many of those present were calling for the return of the Pahlavi monarchy.
Peter Marshall
London, UK. 11 Feb 2923. The Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign met in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for a Night Carnival procession though London calling for the refusal of extradition for Julian Assange to the USA where he would face life imprisonment in harsh conditions that would threaten his life and for his immediate release. Assange is a journalist who released details of crimes by others, not a criminal. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live New
London, UK. 25 Feb 2023. Stop the War Coalition and CND march in Lodon calling for an end to the war in Ukraine. Though opposed to the Russian invasion they call for peace talks to end the huge suffering and deaths of civilians and soldiers which is being fed by the supply of arms to Ukraine and point to the dangers of escalation, possibly nuclear. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
London, UK. 11 Feb 2023. Iranians protest in London in support of continuing protests in Iran following the death of Kurdish woman Jina Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police demanding regime change. They condemn the continuing repression, arrest and hanging of protesters and call for the release of imprisoned protesters, but also for a revolution to free the country from religious dictatorship. Many of those present were calling for the return of the Pahlavi monarchy, others want neither monarchy
London, UK. 18 Feb 2023. Somalis rally opposite Downing Street against the violations of human rights against the people of Sool, Sanag and Cayn. People are being slaughtered, hospitals burnt, schools destroyed and water, food and medical supplies cut off. They call on the UK government to end funding and training the Somali government forces carrying out the atrocities and hold President Muse Bihi to account. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
London, UK. 25 Feb 2023. Protesters crowded the roadside at Trafalgar Aquare with placards against Mayor Khan’s planned extension of the ultra low emission Zone (ULEZ) which will make drivers of extra polluting vehicles pay a daily charge for driving in the whole of Greater London. The ULEZ will help cut London’s lethal air pollution which kills thousands each year and ruins the health of many others. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News
London, UK. 25 Feb 2023. We Own It organised a protest in Parliament Square after an Oxford University study linked the treatable deaths of 557 people to NHS privatisation. They filled the square with 557 people each holding a numbered placard and a small bunch of flowers for each of those who has died because of privatisation and demand that this end and our NHS be fully returned to being a public service. Peter Marshall/Alamy Live News

If you want to find out more about any of the events you can find the albums with more of my pictures on Facebook. More from later in 2023 in another post.

Hospital Law Change, Living Wage Protest

Saturday, March 11th, 2023

On Tuesday 11th March 2014 I attended two protests, the first at Parliament against a change in the law on closing hospitals, and the second calling for a living wage for cleaners at Chelsea College.

Stop Hospital Killer Clause 119 – Parliament

Hospital Law Change, Living Wage Protest

Unite, GMB, the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign and other hospital protest groups protested outside Parliament against Clause 119 inserted to change the law over hospital closures into the Care Bill, which was having its third reading in the House of Commons.

Hospital Law Change, Living Wage Protest

In 2014 the High Court ruled that health minister Jeremy Hunt had acted illegally in proposing a downgrading of maternity and A&E services at Lewisham hospital because the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth Hospital Woolwich was going bust.

Hospital Law Change, Living Wage Protest

So Jeremy Hunt decided to change the law, and inserted Clause 119 into the Care Bill to give the special administrators overseeing an English NHS Trust in financial difficulties powers to close, merge or alter the services at any other hospital to balance the books without any proper consultation or regard to the social and health effects.

It was a measure which went entirely against the whole idea that local people and local GPs would be in control of health services in their own areas, something which had been stated to be at the centre of Tory/Coalition health policies. The local commissioning groups it says will be at the centre of local health provision will have absolutely no say over what happens to the services that they commission when this clause is invoked.

Though many saw these local groups rather as ways to make the continuing process of passing the NHS over to private companies easier than providing any real local control.

Clause 119 was a panic measure drafted in a fit of pique after Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was defeated in his attempts to raid the thriving Lewisham Hospital to meet the huge PFI debts of some other hospitals in South East London. The attempt to close Lewisham with the deterioration in services for the people in the area provides a clear and obvious example of why actions of this kind should remain illegal.

Lewisham’s closures were stopped by powerful local opposition which brought doctors, local councils, Millwall Football Club and the whole local community out onto the streets – and also making donations to enable Hunt to be taken to the courts. And taken again to fight his unsuccessful appeal against the original decision.

The protest on 11th March 2014 began with a period of silence to mark the death early that day of RMT General Secretary Bob Crow. Speakers at the rally included a member of the Shadow health team, other MPs, consultant Jackie Davis of the National Health Action party, Rachael Maskell, Unite Head of Health, and several NHS activists including Jill from Lewisham and Sandra from Charing Cross.

Stop Hospital Killer Clause 119

Pay UAL Cleaners a Living Wage – Chelsea College of Art

A short walk down Millbank, just past Tate Britain, took me to UAL Chelsea College of Arts where GMB and the University of the Arts Students’ Union were calling on the College to ensure that their cleaners, employed by Bouygues Energy & Services, are paid the London Living Wage.

The cleaners were then being paid on the national minimum wage, which for those over 21 was £6.31, less than three-quarters of the London Living Wage, calculated annually by the Greater London Authority, then £8.80 per hour.

The protesters went to call on Vice-Chancellor Nigel Carrington, who after a few minutes came out to talk with them. He told them he thought that they had some good points, but that he did not employ the cleaners and could not grant them the living wage. He also said that he cleaners were paid more then there would be less money to spend on other things, including the student courses and provision.

The protesters responded that many organisations insist that contractors pay the living wage to all employees, and that contracting out of services is simply a way to exploit employees – paying lower rates and giving them worse conditions of employment – while keeping the institutions hands clean.

They were told they could go in to the staff forum meeting so long as they put down their banners, placards and megaphones, and the students decided to do so. The rest of us left.

Pay UAL Cleaners a Living Wage

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS – another varied day of events around London on Saturday 19th April 2015.

Centenary of Armenian Genocide, Piccadilly

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

Armenians met to march through London on the 100th anniversary of start of the killing of 1.5m Armenians by Turkey between 1915 and 1923. Turkey still refuse to accept the mass killings as genocide and the UK has not recognised the Armenian genocide.

Genocide is defined as deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group, and it seems beyond doubt that this was the Turkish aim. I left just before th march began, going to lay flowers at the Cenotaph and then hold a service on the steps of steps of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Centenary of Armenian Genocide

Football Action Network Manifesto, Westminster

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

Football fans in the Football Action Network took copies of its manifesto to the Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem offices in Westminster. Its demands include a Football Reform Bill, a living wage for all staff, fair ticket prices, safe standing, and reforms to clubs & FA. I met and photographed them on the steps of the Lib-Dem offices in Great George St.

Football Action Network Manifesto

Tweed Cycle Ride, Westminster

Genocide, Football, Bikes, TTIP, Climate Change and NHS

The Tweed Cycle Ride came past as I photographed the football fans and I ran down the road next to them into Parliament Square. This vintage-themed “jaunty bike ride around London in our sartorial best” stops for tea and a picnic and ends with “a bit of a jolly knees-up.” It’s a charity event, raising money for the London Cycling Campaign.

Tweed Cycle Ride

Stop TTIP rally, Shepherds Bush Green

A tube journey took me out to Shepherds Bush Green in West London for a Day of Dissent rally against the TTIP treaty being secretly negotiated by governments and corporations poses and the threat this trade treaty poses to democracy and all public services.

After a number of powerful speeches the protesters split into participatory discussion groups to discus the risks and plan further action.

Stop TTIP rally

KFC protest over TTIP – Shepherds Bush Green

TTIP will force countries to accept food from the US which uses practices considered unsafe in other countries – including chlorine-washed chickens. This is needed in the US as chickens are kept in cages with very poor standards of hygiene that would not be permitted here, and drastic treatment of the carcases is essential. A row of protester stood in front of KFC and wearing white coats and yellow rubber gloves dipped rubber chickens into buckets and passed them along the processing line.

BP die-in against Climate Change, Shepherds Bush Green

Another group of protesters marched across the the BP garage on the other side os Shepherd Bush Green, where they staged a ‘die-in’ over TTIP, which would force countries to use dirty fuels including coal, tar oil and arctic oil and seriously delay cutting carbon emissions and the move to renewable energy. After several speeches, the protesters got up and walked back across the road to the grassed area of the green.

BP die-in against Climate Change

Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest, Westfield, Shepherds Bush

Finally a group of protester marched into London’s Westfield centre to point out the danger that TTIP poses to our NHS, allowing corporations to force the privatisation of all public services. Police and security stood back and watched as they gave out leaflets and put on a short street theatre performance.

Like many shopping centres, Westfield hava a ‘no photography’ policy, and some of those taking pictures and recording videos were asked to stop. I don’t think I was, but would have claimed a clear public interest in recording the event and kept on photographing.

The protesters were considering further protest in the area, but I decided I had been on my feet to long and caught the tube to take me towards home.

Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest

More on My London Diary on all the day’s protests:
Westfield ‘Save our NHS’ protest
BP die-in against Climate Change
KFC protest over TTIP
Stop TTIP rally
Tweed Cycle Ride
Football Action Network Manifesto
Centenary of Armenian Genocide

Junior Doctors, Ugandan Election, Benefit Sanctions

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

Junior Doctors, Ugandan Election, Benefit Sanctions. Three protests I photographed on Wednesday 9th March 2016

David Clapson, one of many victions of inhumane Tory policies

UCH rally for Junior Doctors Strike

Junior doctors were on a one day strike against the imposition of unfair contracts which they say are unsafe and they were joined by other trade unionists on the picket line at University College Hospital on Euston Road.

Later in the morning came the rally opposite the hospital I photographed when other health workers and NHS activists came to support them, and also to oppose the axing for NHS student bursaries and the creeping privatisation of the NHS.

Ugandans protest rigged Presidential Election

Elections had been held in Uganda in February 2016, and international observers reported widespread fraud and irregularities with opposition politicians being arrested, voters intimidated and many polling stations reporting results very different to the actual votes cast.

The protesters called on the UK not to recognise Museveni as the legitimate President of Uganda and for the immediate release of Dr Besigye and other political prisoners, as well as action against those responsible for torture.

The protesters, who included the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and Peter Tatchell Foundation were clear that Museveni had lost the election to his challenger Besigye, and having held a high-spirited protest outside the Ugandan High Commission on the corner of Trafalgar Square marched down to deliver a letter to Downing St.

Unite against Benefit Sanctions

Demonstrations were taking place at over 70 job centres across the country against the use of benefit sanctions. Many claimants lose benefits for trivial reasons and for events beyond their control and are left without support. Some are sanctioned for arriving a few minutes late because of traffic congestion or for missing appointments they have not been informed about. I photographed a protest called by Unite Community members outside the ministry responsible for the policy, the DWP in Caxton St, Westminster.

Sanctions mean people lose benefits and are left destitute. Despite government denials at least 95 deaths are known to have resulted from these sanctions and without the efforts of the many food banks the figure would be much higher.

Some campaigners see the use of sanctions as a deliberate and successful attack on the unemployed and disabled by minister Iain Duncan Smith who is responsible for those working for the DWP being given incentives and targets for causing maximum misery and they label him ‘Minister for Euthanasia’.

David Clapson – Sanctioned to Death

Among those at the protest at Caxton House was Gill Thompson, the sister of David Clapson, a diabetic ex-soldier who died starving and destitute because he was penalised by the Job Centre for missing a meeting. She delivered a petition calling for an inquest into his death and an end to unfair benefit sanctions which leave claimants without support. Over 200,000 people have signed this and a related petition.

Save Our NHS March, London, 2017

Friday, March 4th, 2022

Save Our NHS March, London, 2017. On 4th March many thousands marched through London from Tavistock Square where the BMA have their headquarters to a rally in Parliament Square in protest against the cuts and privatisation of the NHS.

The Conservative Party were against the formation of the NHS from the start, and voted against both the Second and Third readings of the National Health Service Bill in the House of Commons in 1946.

The formation of a public state heath service had been advocated by Beatrice Webb as early as 1909, and the idea of a free, comprehensive and universal health provision had been gaining public support over the years, becoming official Labour policy under George Lansbury in 1934. By 1942 even the British Medical Association had proposed having regional councils running hospitals with consultants as paid staff, although they opposed the 1946 bill as they though doctors would lose money under the NHS.

But it was the 1942 report by William Beveridge, Social Insurance and Allied Services, that put the NHS firmly on the political agenda, with even Tory Prime Minister Winston Churchill suggesting in 1943 it would be a part of the rebuilding of Britain after the war, and both Liberals and Conservatives supporting consultations with doctors and others that resulted in a 1944 White Paper, ‘A National Health Service’.

When Labour’s Health Minister Aneurin Bevan put his National Health Service Bill to parliament in 1946, there was general agreement on the idea of a comprehensive health service, but the Tories were opposed to doctors becoming full-time employees and thus being unable to continue in hugely lucrative private practice. And the BMA shared their position, continuing their opposition after the Act was passed and eventually were able to force Bevan to amend the act and remove the introduction of a salaried service for GPs.

So, although it was a great day when the NHS came into being on 5th July 1948, and was from the start a little hamstrung by commercial interests – in this case of individual doctors. Dentistry has never been properly integrated into the system, and many find it impossible to get NHS dental treatment as relatively few dentists are prepared to work at the rates offered by the NHS. Even for those who are able to get registered as NHS patients, their are fees which for those not qualifying for exemption can be prohibitive despite being subsidised by the NHS.

The march sets of with John McDonnell, Mark Serwotka and others holding the main banner

It was a Labour government that proposed the idea of prescription charges in a 1949 Act, prompting the resignation of Aneurin Bevan from the Labour government, but it was a Conservative Government that introduced them in 1952. They were abolished under Labour by Harold Wilson in 1965 but he brought them back in 1968 though with significant exemptions based on age, income and medical conditions. Wales, Nothern Ireland and Scotland have now abolished charges, but in England each item now costs £9.35.

Since the 1990s many politicians, particularly Tories but also some of the leading figures in the New Labour government and on the right of the party have backed changing from the current universal system to a personal insurance-based system, and there has also been a huge increase in those taking out private insurance, with now around 4 million having this, mainly through the companies they work for.

Healthcare is now a massive industry in the UK, enabling the wealthy to avoid delays in receiving treatment in the underfunded NHS. The NHS also massively funds the private system, with some private healthcare providers receiving as much as 80% of their income for providing services to NHS patients. Some NHS hospitals also get in on the act by offering private care.

Many of the more routine services provided by the NHS have now been outsourced to private providers and over the years various changes in the way the NHS works have meant more and more has to be made available for tender by outside bodies. In some cases the level of services provided has been extremely poor – when I was in one hospital the outsourced cleaners had insufficient time to clean the floor under the beds, and accidentally putting down my hand I found a dirty dressing and a used needle from a previous occupant. Probably such outsourcing was a significant cause of various hospital-acquired infections.

But much private medicine is of a high standard – using the same surgeons and consultants others expensively trained by the NHS who work both for the NHS and private hospitals. The best private hospitals will have more equipment and more up-to-date equipment than the NHS hospitals that have suffered from years of cuts, and will also provide better conditions for their patients, with private rooms and more.

Having a two-tier system which is rapidly growing means that politicians, themselves wealthy and overwhelmingly representing the interests of the better off, and the more vocal wealthier groups in society, as well of course as the well-paid lobbyists for private health, are less likely to provide the NHS with the funding it needs to provide modern healthcare.

Many believe that our NHS is under threat, slowly and step by step being sold off to private healthcare companies, many based in the US, and that before long the NHS will be a name only, a branding used by private companies (as in many areas it already is.) The country is slowly being prepared for a complete move to an insurance based system, which will be brought in by politicians – Labour or Conservative- still chanting the mantra ‘The NHS is safe in our hands‘.

More at Save our NHS March.

Save Our NHS

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

The past year has made all of us appreciate both what a great national asset our National Health Service is and also – unless we are blinkered Tories – to realise how much it has been run down as a deliberate Conservative policy ever since the Tories came into power in 2010. Though of course its problems also come from decisions taken by earlier governments, and in particular the disastrous PFI contracts taken out under New Labour which involve huge and continuing debt repayments by parts of the NHS.

Even the Tories have come to realise that the NHS reorganisation under Andrew Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act were a mistake, although the fine print of their 2021 White Paper makes clear that they are still – as in 2017 when I photographed this ‘Save Our NHS’ march – pursuing their goal of rapid stealthy privatisation with medical services increasingly being run for private profit rather than public benefit, threatening an increasingly under funded public service which delivers high quality service at low cost and remains the envy of the world.

This privatisation is continuing. Last month it was announced that Operose Health Ltd, a UK subsidiary of one of the larger US health insurance companies, is taking over AT Medics, which runs 49 General Practice surgeries across London, with around 370,000 Londoners registered at them. When the takeover was finalised on 10th Feb, the six GPs who had been the directors of AP Medics resigned and were replaced by Operose staff – who include two who had in previous years held high-level positions in NHS England, a public body of the Department of Health set up to oversee the commissioning side of the NHS under that 2012 Act.

The Save our NHS March on March 4th, 2017 pointed out that the Sustainability and Transformation Plans which NHS organisations and local authorities were made to produce as 5 year plans from 2016-21, intended to counteract some of the worst effects of the 2012 Act, were leading to cuts in services and hospital closure and had already caused many premature deaths. They are a part of the rapid stealthy privatisation with medical services increasingly being run for private profit rather than public benefit, threatening an increasingly under funded public service which delivers high quality service at low cost and remains the envy of the world.

It was a large march, and made up largely of those who work in various parts of the NHS and have clear view of the actual consequences of the effects of government actions, and many of them spoke before the march set off. Most medical professionals do the work they do through a strong sense of vocation rather than being motivated by money, and as we have seen over the past year, many have worked long over their paid hours, and often with inadequate personal protection because of decisions taken to lower the stocks of supplies and the cuts in beds, the cutting of support for the training of nurses, changes to contracts for junior doctors and other measures.

Looking at the faces in these pictures – and I took many more on the day – I wonder how many of them have died because of their dedication to their job of saving our lives. I wonder how many are suffering the prolonged debilitating effects of ‘long covid’, how many mental illness because of a year of working under extreme stress.

Some carried signs ‘Born in the NHS’. I wasn’t but I grew up with it and it was there when I needed it, and still is. Others carried that quote attributed to Aneurin Bevan, though he probably never said it,”The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.” There were perhaps 50,000 on this march showing they were ready to do so.

More pictures in My London Diary: Save our NHS March

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.