A NEW Jarrow March will highlight a health battle in the town when it sets off for London tomorrow.
The People’s March for the NHS will leave from the same spot where the original 200 jobless Jarrow Marchers left the town in October 1936 to demand work from Stanley Baldwin’s government.
Organised by a group of Darlington mothers, the new march is part of a wider fight against the alleged privatisation of the NHS.
But dozens of marchers making the 300-mile trek to Parliament will also carry a petition, collected against plans to close a walk-in facility at Palmer Community Hospital, Jarrow.
Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, who will address a rally before the march sets off, said: “There have been several thousand names collected against closing the walk-in centre.
“A total of 27,000 people used the facility at Palmer Community Hospital last year, and this proves how much it’s needed.
“The People’s March for the NHS will carry the petition from Jarrow all the way to London and it will be part of the submission which will be presented to Labour MPs, and perhaps Government ministers, when it reaches Parliament on September 6.”
Officials of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have announced plans to close the walk-in centre as part of local health service shake-up plans, which could see the creation of a new care hub at South Tyneside District Hospital, South Shields. But the CCG say there are no plans to close Palmer Community Hospital.
Rehana Azam, from DarloMums, who have organised the health march, said: “We are expecting between 200 and 300 people at the rally in the car park to the rear of Jarrow Town Hall, before the march sets off.
“We have got about 30 hardcore members, who are going to march all the 300 miles to London.
“We are constantly told the NHS is not being privatised, but that’s not the case. The petition for Palmer Hospital will be part of the submission we will be carrying, and we hope to collect other health-related petitions along the route to London.”
Organisers have asked people to gather from 9am tomorrow in the car park at Jarrow Town Hall, off Grange Road, where the rally will assemble.
There will be speakers and music, before the People’s March for the NHS sets off for London at about 10.45am.