'The NHS deserves better' - protest against health service cuts in Sunderland and South Shields

A demonstration has been held to protest against health cuts and to coincide with the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.

The Sunderland and District branch of Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) organised the demonstration, which included a motorcade between Sunderland Royal Hospital and South Tyneside Hospital in South Shields.

Posters and banners were displayed, paying tribute to the NHS and expressing solidarity with health workers.

But it also served as a protest against ‘privatisation, cuts, under-funding and unsafe conditions’ as KONP launched its 2020 vision for healthcare.

Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) gathered to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS, as well as to protest.

The event was backed by the presence of members of trade unions, including Unite and the Fire Brigades Union.

Both hospitals are involved with Phase Two of the Path to Excellence Programme, a five-year healthcare transformation scheme across South Tyneside and Sunderland, which aims for more efficient NHS services and improved ways to deliver them.

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Laura Murrell, secretary of Sunderland and District KONP, said: “We are demanding that better care is taken of our NHS and that both these important hospitals are fully staffed and resourced.

Members of different trade unions joined the protest.

“In the sixth richest country in the world, we should all be able to attend our local hospitals when necessary. The NHS deserves better. We all deserve better.

“Underfunding and creeping privatisation over the last 10 years has meant the NHS is inadequately prepared to protect the general public and staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

“NHS and social care workers have worked on the frontline to keep us safe, but their work has been made dangerous.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens said the country’s experience of coronavirus should be used positively.

He said: "If any good is to come from this, we must use this as a moment to resolve once and for all to actually properly resource and reform the way in which social care works in this country.

“The reality is that after at least two decades of talking about it, we do not have a fair and properly resourced adult social care system with a proper set of workforce supports.”

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