Thousands of people have marched in central London to celebrate the NHS and demand more investment in public health.
In a walk from central London to Westminster, demonstrators, celebrities and politicians shared their stories of being helped by the NHS and called on the government to give more funding to health and social care.
Addressing the rally, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the health service was being “slowly privatised” by the Conservative government and called on supporters to “go to the ends of the earth and beyond” to defend it.
“I want to live in a society where we have a health service worthy of the name paid for by all of us, for all of us. It’s called socialism,” he said.
“I want to see the same principles applied in education and in housing.”
The rally marks the 70th birthday of the NHS and follows a government-announcement promise to increase its funding by £20bn a year.
Organisers dismissed the investment as “not good enough”.
This Thursday we celebrate our NHS’s 70th birthday.
Out of the rubble and devastation of the Second World War a Labour government built the world’s first comprehensive public healthcare system.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) 30 June 2018
NHS workers and patients marched with placards and banners that read “NHS SOS” and “standing together for the NHS”, while others shouted “shame on you Tories”.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the crowd that the NHS was Britain’s “biggest socialist achievement” and had flourished because of staff including porters, doctors, cleaners and caterers.
“Don’t let any of those poisonous politicians who want to scapegoat migrant workers divide us,” she added. “We are united”.
The march came on the same day as the NHS announced it would cut back on “unnecessary” and “risky” operations to save money.
Breast reductions, tonsil removals and operations to stop people snoring are listed among the 17 procedures that could no longer be offered by the NHS.
Many demonstrators marching shared stories of how the NHS has impacted their own lives.
Labour activist Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, who carried a 70th birthday card for the health service, said one of her babies was delivered at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and she received counselling after losing twins.
Sharon Jennings tweeted: “My 95 yr mother-in-law saved up £14 in 1948 to pay for the birth of her son due on 24 June 1948. NHS started 5 Jul and he arrived 3 days later, 2 weeks late. This allowed her to pay for a pram instead.”