Leeds city centre was brought to a standstill yesterday (March 28th) as hundreds of protesters marched as part of an anti-privatisation march.

On March 28th, hundreds of individuals and groups gathered outside Leeds art gallery and marched around the city to protest against the closure of hospitals and funding cuts that have been implemented by the coalition government over the last few years.

Demonstrators say they are worried about cost cuts and the closure of important healthcare services – such as children’s hospitals.

Hundreds protested against NHS cuts in Leeds

Hundreds protested against NHS cuts in Leeds

The march was also attended by trade unions such as GMB, CND and Unison, as well as other local anti-privatisation groups.

The Health and Social Care Act has opened the NHS up to unprecedented privatisation of services. Many privatised services have cuts, a reduction in service and further reductions in pay and conditions of staff.

The cuts have resulted in equipment and hospital bed shortages, longer waits, and an increasing reliance upon cheaper drugs and medication.

It has also increased the pressure on nurses, who are now being forced to look after a growing number of patients but with fewer resources. This has resulted in many patients not receiving the care they need due to a shortage of nursing and hospital staff.

NHS England has warned that the inexorably rising demand for care will leave a £30 billion black hole in its budget by 2020-21.

Figures showed that there were 66 NHS trusts that ended 2013-14 in the red – incurring overspends of more than £750 million – up from 45 a year earlier. They include 41 of the 147 foundation trusts, double the 21 seen a year earlier.

By the end of July 2014, 98 NHS trust hospitals showed a deficit of £300 million which is forecast to rise to £563 million by the end of March.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust believes it will have a deficit of £49 million, representing almost five per cent of its turnover. The sector’s net deficit, £241 million at the end of March, is likely to be twice that by the end of the year.

Hospital bosses claim that by the end of this year, the NHS will be at least £1 billion in the red.

At the same time, the waiting lists for treatment, mainly planned surgery, has recently topped 3 million people for the first time since 2008.

Mounting costs and budget cuts have led to a situation where the NHS is becoming increasingly reliant upon private contractors, with an increasing number of corporations eyeing up the NHS as a potential money-making venture.

Saturday’s march was organised via social media, with organisations such as Leeds Keep Our NHS Public taking the lead in helping to organise the protest.

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