Thousands take to the streets of London to protest NHS cuts

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to protest about the future of the NHS.

Organisers described the national demonstration as a rallying call to save the health service at a time when "more austerity in the NHS represents a real risk to the safety of patients and the service".

Campaigners, medics and members of the public were among those taking part in the march which is calling for a number of measures including:

  • No cuts and closures

  • An end to pay restraint for NHS staff

  • A fully funded NHS

They hope the march will put pressure on the Government ahead of next week's Budget.

Some demonstrators held home-made banners which included slogans such as "Where are the 350 million? #EU doctors" and "NHS4Ever"

The march began to the sound of pounding drums and blaring whistles with some chanting: "No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts".

Crowds gathered in Parliament Square were later addressed by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who described the NHS as "a basic human value and a basic human right".

"The NHS is in crisis, in crisis because of the underfunding in social care and the people not getting the care and support they need," he said.

"It is not the fault of the staff. It is the fault of a Government who have made a political choice."

The protest included a short march from NHS England to Parliament Square.

Junior doctor and GP trainee Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, addressing the crowd on behalf of the BMA, said the NHS "in reality faces £26 billion of health and social care cuts due to political decisions".

"What is sustainable about debts that can only be paid with our patients' health and yet still won't be settled?"

He added: "Where is the transformation when the money to build new hospitals and health centres is being siphoned off to pay debts?"

Unions, frontline staff and children were among those who took part as the march peacefully moved from NHS England, through London's West End and into Westminster.