Leeds NHS protest: Hundreds march through Leeds city centre to 'defend NHS at all costs'

Hundreds marched through Leeds this afternoon as they urged the Government to put more cash into the healthcare system.

By Tom Coates
Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 4:57 pm

Activists gathered initially outside Leeds Town Hall and several gave speeches addressing the current state of the health service.

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They then embarked on a march through the city centre with drums, flags and banners in hand.

The protest doubled up as a celebration of the NHS as it approaches its 74th birthday.

The protest doubled up as a celebration of the NHS, which is approaching its 74th birthday.

Dr John Puntis, the current co-chair of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, was in attendance and said: "I'm very sad at what's happening to the NHS - it's basically being dismantled.

"It's the 74th birthday of the NHS soon so this is a protest that both celebrates the NHS but also laments the fact that it is being taken apart."

The Government has come under fire for the rises in waiting times for various treatments.

Recent figures have shown that the number of patients in England being forced to wait more than 18 weeks for cardiac treatment has trebled since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There have also been reports that a well-below inflation pay rise is expected to be given to NHS workers and discontent was tangible as protestors marched through the city centre.

Attendee Tim Knight said: "I remember my grandparents telling me about what life was like before the NHS, and how even a minor illness could be absolutely debilitating back then. We come from a poor family and we couldn't afford private medical care, nobody could. We're kind of drifting back to that now.

"The NHS has been privatised bit-by-bit and we need to stand up for it. It's absolutely brilliant seeing people come out and we just need to see more and more, we need to encourage more people to get involved. We need to defend it at all costs."

Fellow attendee Lisa Clayforth added: "I think healthcare should be a basic right for everybody, I don't think it should be determined by your bank balance.

"If anybody is ill in any way, shape or form, whether it's physical or mental illness, they should be able to get help. It is encouraging seeing people turning up to fight for the NHS."