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Public health campaigners will protest the government's mishandling of the pandemic

NHS campaigners revealed today their plans for a series of protests over the government’s mishandling of Covid-19.

Several socially distanced protests, led by NHS staff, unions and campaigners, will take place across the country this weekend to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS and highlight the way the pandemic has exposed government underfunding of the service. 

Sixty NHS staff and campaigners will carry a lantern each on Friday to represent nearly 60,000 deaths from coronavirus in Britain.

The socially distanced protest organised by Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together (HCT) will begin outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London, cross Westminster Bridge and end outside Downing Street, where, during a candlelit vigil, the names of NHS staff who have died from coronavirus will be read out by colleagues. 

On Sunday, nation-wide protests will culminate in an online rally demanding a rescue plan, which will include more public funding for the NHS, decent pay for all frontline staff, no return to austerity policies, an end to all privatisation in the NHS, and for social care to be publicly owned and provided. 

HCT chairman Mike Forster said: “Despite the phenomenal efforts of NHS and care staff, Covid-19 has exposed huge problems and gaps in provision which have led to the largest death toll in Europe.

“Hard questions must be asked and we intend to begin that debate now to help shape future policy direction.  

“Chronic underfunding of the NHS coupled with low pay have made things far worse.

“The private sector has also been used to supplement care which has failed to meet local need, and central government has been woefully unprepared.” 

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