The demonstration, which was organised by the charity Sussex Defend The NHS, took place on Saturday morning and started on The Level in Brighton, where councillors, NHS professionals, philosophers and politicians addressing the growing crowds.
After the speakers Sussex Police closed the roads as the protesters made their way down Grand Parade to The Old Steine before entering the city centre via North Street, where they congregated by the clock-tower to hold a minute's silence for those affected by government austerity measures in the last decade.
Those who spoke discussed patients in the city being left without sufficient care, with a limited number of hospital beds and long waiting times at an over stretched A&E department at Sussex Royal County Hospital. MP for the Green Party Caroline Lucas spoke at the demonstration saying: “I have an 84-year-old constituent who was left alone on her bathroom floor waiting for an ambulance for 4 hours, this is due to government cuts and austerity”.
One of the speakers, Rob Galloway -an A&E consultant for the NHS said: “The 2012 Social Care Act has damaged the way we spend money. Hospitals are competing against each other and there is no joined up thinking with privatisation and people going in to make money out of sickness”.
He also discussed the Prime Minister's plans to end austerity from her party conference speech: “we need her to keep her word for an extra £20 billion, that will just stabilise the NHS, not improve it, just stabilise it with an increasing population”.
However, the Institute of Fiscal Studies has warned in a report released today that Chancellor Philip Hammond would have to raise national taxes by £19 billion if he is to meet the PMs plans to end austerity whilst continuing to pay back the deficit. The report also stated that following Brexit, the Treasury can expect around a modest £1 billion savings a year in EU contributions by 2023 and that the £19 billion promised into the NHS would only meet existing commitments.
With no government financial plan yet released to back the PM's pledge and raise the £20 billion needed to bring the NHS out of austerity, this demonstration, like many in the past, shows that the public are long awaiting answers and are frustrated over the current state of the NHS and its future funding.