Health service protest takes to city centre

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Hundreds of protesters lined the streets of Leeds city centre to raise concerns over cuts to NHS funding and the impact on services.

Members of the campaign group Keep Our NHS Public organised the demonstration as the health service approaches its 70th anniversary.

Save the NHS rally in Leeds sat 14th april 2018

Save the NHS rally in Leeds sat 14th april 2018

Health professionals, union members and patients were among those taking part in the event, which set off from the Headrow at 11.45am on Saturday.

Dr John Puntis, a consultant paediatrician and national secretary of Keep Our NHS Public, said the aim of the protest was to raise awareness of “chronic underfunding” of the health service and to prevent the NHS being slowly privatised.

He said: “It is the 70th anniversary of the NHS and we are being told that everything is getting better and that we have never had as much money. It obscures the fact we are seeing the biggest spending freeze the health service has ever had.

“We received a positive response from members of the public who recognise the importance of protecting the NHS.”

Some road closures were in place during the demonstration, causing some disruption to bus services.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The NHS is not being privatised and we remain committed to an NHS that is owned by the taxpayer and free at the point of use. It is right that, as they have done under successive Governments, local NHS organisations make pragmatic choices to organise their work in ways that deliver improved care for patients and good value for taxpayers.

“Furthermore, NHS funding is at a record high and the Prime Minister and Health and Social Care Secretary have committed to a long-term plan with a sustainable multi-year settlement for the NHS to help it manage growing patient demand, which will be agreed with NHS leaders, clinicians, and health experts.”