Despite yet another dismal winter saturday drizzle, around 150 people joined the protest outside the Leeds General Infirmary, as part of the 3rd February national day of action over the winter NHS crisis.
Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
In the absence of major unions, or Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, calling for a mass turnout for the day of action, instead the protest had been built for from below by local activists, including Keep Our NHS public who organised the demo.
Socialist Party and Socialist Students members had run stalls over the last few weeks to build for the demo, and some local branches of the Green Party & Labour Party had mobilised their membership, as well as contingents from the RCN and GMB unions.
An impromptu march took place through the city centre, with strong support from the general public as we passed by. Finishing up outside Boots, who pharmacies in the local trust were contracted out to a few years ago, the Socialist Party stall with petitions against the plans to establish ‘Special Purpose Vehicles’ in local trusts, essentially a private company that non-medical staff will be transferred into. Where these have been set-up have soon followed attacks on staff terms and conditions.
There was particular mood amongst some marchers and passersby against outsourcing, given the recent developments around Carillion. Many people commented they agreed with the slogan “Kick Out the Privatisers!” on the front page on the Socialist, with 23 copies sold on the demo.