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NHS campaigners bring flavour of protest in the capital to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 16:14 30 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:01 30 June 2018

Children place rocks to spell out NHS at a protest outside the Forum in Norwich. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Children place rocks to spell out NHS at a protest outside the Forum in Norwich. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

NHS campaigners turned out in Norwich to coincide with tens of thousands of people hitting London streets over health service funding.

Mark Randall speaks at the NHS protest outside the Forum, Norwich. Photo: Geraldine ScottMark Randall speaks at the NHS protest outside the Forum, Norwich. Photo: Geraldine Scott

The NHS Norfolk Action Group, Fighting For Our NHS, and Unite arranged their protests outside the Forum today (Saturday) for anyone unable to join the demonstration in the capital.

Band Glitchers provided musical entertainment and children painted stones to arrange to spell out ‘NHS’, while speakers made their passionate pleas to protect the service.

Mark Randall, a mental health nurse and steward for the union Unison, said: “We’re painfully aware of the effect of cuts on the NHS and what that means and at the end of the day it’s the patients who suffer.”

Sharron Cooke, 50, started the Fighting For Our NHS group in Norfolk for people unable to travel to London to protest. But it has now spread country-wide with more than 17,000 members.

Ms Cooke, from Downham Market, said: “About six years ago I lost my leg and [the frontline staff] have just been fantastic, but I’ve seen a lot happen. I just can’t believe the conditions they are working in, the nurses are run off their feet, and so many people just don’t believe it’s happening.”

Jan McLachlan, from the NHS Norfolk Action Group, added: “I’ve been really pleased with how people have received us, it’s been a different type of protest and we wanted frontline staff to talk about their experiences.

“What we’re trying to do is make people more involved.”

Ms McLachlan said the group was concerned about “privatisation by the back door” as well as wanting to celebrate NHS frontline staff and the health service’s 70th anniversary on July 5.

Both the Norwich and London events - as well as others across the country - were timed to precede Thursday’s milestone.

In London organisers estimated 40,000 took to the streets bearing placards and chanting “who’s NHS, our NHS”.

They stopped outside Downing Street to demand Theresa May’s resignation en route to the stage where Jeremy Corbyn and others were due to speak on Saturday afternoon.

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