On Saturday, March 4, an estimated 250,000 people took part in one of the biggest protest marches in the U.K.’s history. The protesters were responding to massive cuts in the country’s National Health Service (NHS), which has seen its most difficult winter in years due to substantial cuts from the current conservative government.
According to the Twitter account NHS Million, the funding dedicated to healthcare per person, per year is now lower than neighboring countries including Germany, France and Sweden.
For many years, NHS facilities and the staff serving within them have been suffering from a lack of funding with many having declared black alerts under severe pressure. The past few months have also seen the British Red Cross charity brought in to aid.
Many young people also participated in the event, wielding placards and slogans to protest the cuts; many of the young people present took pride in the services delivered in the NHS with some having been treated by it in the past.
Beginning at Tavistock Square and ending outside the U.K. Houses of Parliament, countless organizations alongside politicians such as Jeremy Corbyn lined the streets. The chair of the Junior Doctors Committee, Jeeves Wijesuriya, said: “We took a stand because we know the NHS is at breaking point. They call us ‘dreamers’ when we expect better.”
Between the Bridges Not Walls protest last January and the NHS march, London is quickly becoming a hub for social action, particularly in the wake of 2016’s political upheavals.
Despite a large turnout however, the universal healthcare service still faces an uphill battle. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (the equivalent of finance minister) stated that funding would be directed toward softening the blow of leaving the EU by building up Brexit reserves, rather than tackling the NHS crisis.
Nevertheless, circulation of support for service continues on social media, bringing communities together in a bid to tackle the ever-growing crisis.