South Shields campaigners back NHS day of action

NHS campaigners at a rally in South Shields as part of the national day of action. Credit: Maddy Nettleship.
NHS campaigners at a rally in South Shields as part of the national day of action. Credit: Maddy Nettleship.

Campaigners in South Shields joined thousands across the country who took to the street in support of the NHS.

As huge crowds in London marched on Downing Street on Saturday, South Tyneside protesters signed petitions and handed out leaflets, demanding protection for the service.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck joined activists in King Street, fighting for services at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Maddy Nettleship, a spokeswoman for the Save South Tyneside Hospital campaign, said: "Yesterday was an NHS day of action throughout the country.

"There was a huge demonstration in London and there were actions all over the country.

"There was a major one in Newcastle, but we decided because of the ongoing complaint against all the cuts, we would have a protest in South Tyneside.

"We were amazed because we've been out there a lot of times and this is one of the bests reactions we've had.

"Because of the so-called temporary closure of the maternity ward at South Tyneside Hospital, people are willing to fight to save their services.

"We had people queuing up without us approaching them. The response from the people of South Tyneside was fantastic.

"The people here are very passionate about the NHS remaining public. People are worried about what's happening to their hospital in South Tyneside.

"It's expensive to get to Sunderland and we have patients praising our hospital saying we can't live without these services. It was an amazing response.

"We had hundreds of people. I couldn't believe it, I kept having to turn over more pages of the petition.

"We already had more than 36,000 signature. Unfortunately we haven't counted them yet, but we collected hundreds more yesterday."

A protest vigil hosted by Save South Tyneside Hospital will be held from noon to 1pm on Friday, February 16 , at the Harton Wing entrance of the hospital.

The Clinical Commissioning Group is set to make the decision on the future of these services on February 21.