Tower Hamlets NHS staff take protest to the City

NHS staff in Tower Hamlets took to the streets last night, marching from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to Barts in the City to protest cuts to funding and staff.

Around a thousand healthcare workers took what organisers dubbed a “symbolic” route, walking through Aldgate and into the heart of the financial district, past banking offices including Royal Bank of Scotland.

Tower Hamlets staff have raised concerns about job cuts in the Barts and the London NHS Trust, where 635 posts are to go, including an estimated 250 nurses.

Protesters also spoke of fears of wider privatisation of the NHS, which they said could be ushered in by the government’s Health and Social Care Bill.

Jim Fagan, 60, a retired community nurse who worked in Tower Hamlets and a member of the Keep Our NHS Public group, said: “The people I spoke to are angry.

“They were particularly angry when walking past the RBS offices.

“It showed up the difference between bankers’ bonuses we keep hearing about and nurses facing redundancies.

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“The changes in the Health Bill are more likely to disadvantage lower income families such as in Tower Hamlets.”

Around 200 student nurses staged a “die-in” by lying down in the road outside Liverpool Street station, which momentarily brought traffic to a halt.

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP at the Chrisp Street Health Centre who was present on the march, echoed concerns about privatisation of the service.

He said: “It will mean care becomes more fragmented with different healthcare providers competing against each other, they won’t collaborate with each other.

“Despite what Andrew Lansley [Secretary of State for Health] is saying, cuts to frontline staff are a reality.”

A spokeswoman for the Barts and the London NHS Trust has said that no compulsory redundancies among frontline staff are expected.