“This was one message East Devon Alliance (EDA) representatives took to what the national press called “one of the biggest NHS rallies in history”, in Central London just one week ago ( Saturday 4th March). An estimated crowd of 250,000 from all over the country, included coachloads from Devon’s ‘Save Our Hospital Services’ (SOHS) network of campaigners, strongly supported by EDA. Prominent amongst the East Devon Alliance group were District Councillors Cathy Gardner (Ward Member for Sidmouth Town) and Val Ranger (Newton Poppleford & Harpford), along with Mayor of Axminster,Paul Hayward. Their call to the government is to reinstate the NHS, now being systematically dismantled, and to repeal the 2012 Health & Social Care Act NOW!
In bright sunshine, the marchers gathered in a densely-packed Tavistock Square at midday, to hear speeches. One was on behalf of hard-pressed Junior Doctors (“We have to take this fight to the streets”). Another example, from Devon’s SOHS , “ now a mass movement in the whole of Devon”, told of “cuts of 93 beds in 5 community hospitals, in Seaton, Okehampton, Honiton, Whipton and in Holsworthy” , and of “six-figure salaries of consultants parachuted in to Devon” who say that there will be “no red lines: any service could go”. Hence the SOHS events based on ‘protective red lines’ drawn by the public..in red clothes, hats, ribbons,etc,…around hospital services.
Due to the huge numbers, there was some delay until the procession to Parliament Square could begin, and for the same reason, it took a full 3 hours’ walk to arrive at Big Ben. On the way, SOHS led the chants outside Downing Street, enthusiastically echoed by the crowds, “Hey, Hey, Theresa May, How many beds have you cut today?” Throughout the event, a pervading mood of sincerity, calm determination, and decency, left the police on duty notably friendly and relaxed.
The policy of dismembering the NHS may not be good for the government’s long-term health, nor for ours!
Come and join the ‘Red Line’ actions in East Devon on Saturday, April 1st. Details coming soon.”