'Biggest protest in Leeds for 17 years' this weekend

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NHS campaigners have organised the biggest demonstration seen in Leeds since the millennium this Saturday.

Thousands of people are expected to descend on the city centre on April 1 to protest against NHS cuts and demand more funding for healthcare.

Several campaign groups from across Yorkshire, including Save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, have joined forces for the event, which will see rail services into Leeds taken over as 'protest trains'.

Causes for concern include the closure of mental health facilities in York, the downgrading of hospital services in Dewsbury and Barnsley, an increase in spending on private ambulances in Sheffield and the reduction in bursaries for student nurses and midwives.

Junior doctors and GPs are also expected on the march alongside patients and representatives from unions Unite, GMB and Unison.

Organisers have promised the march will have a 'lively and positive' atmosphere, with music provided by the PCS samba band, Unite's brass band and local folk musicians. There will also be a flashmob choir.

The demonstrators will gather at 10.30am in Victoria Gardens outside Leeds Art Gallery, before moving off at 12.15pm along a route that covers the Headrow, Vicar Lane, Boar Lane and Briggate.

After arriving back at Victoria Gardens at around 1.15pm, there will be a rally with speakers including retired Leeds paediatrician Dr John Puntis, Save Huddersfield RI chair Mike Forster, paramedic Ali Brown and MP Tracy Brabin.

The protest will end at 2pm.

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