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Thousands to gather in nationwide protests over NHS crisis

THOUSANDS of people will take part in nationwide protests today against the crisis in the NHS leading to delays in emergency care.

Front-line workers and campaigners from Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) will stage events across England to mark the day of action in response to the “unacceptable and dangerous” delays in accessing emergency care and the widespread industrial action by healthcare staff.

Some 30 events will consist of stalls, rallies and marchers through towns.

Campaigners are hoping to draw attention to the reasons for the crisis and show solidarity with striking NHS workers who are fighting for better pay and conditions.

The latest NHS England data shows that one in five patients are still waiting at least half an hour to be transferred to A&E teams and delays in discharging medically fit patients remain close to an all-time high.

Tens of thousands of NHS nurses and ambulance workers in England and Wales will take industrial action on February 6 in what is expected to be the biggest one-day strike in NHS history.

KONP co-chairman Dr John Puntis said: “For the NHS, the ‘winter crisis’ is now all year long.

“As government choose to look the other way, waiting lists, delays in treatment, staff vacancies and ambulance hold-ups increase.

“Each week there are 500 excess deaths related to difficulty in accessing emergency care.”

Dr Puntis said that the first priority of action must be to retain and recruit staff, without whom no services are deliverable.

He said: “Patient safety demands acknowledging the crisis we are in, an end to strikes through serious engagement by politicians with unions, and promoting a fair pay settlement not only for health workers, but also for grossly underpaid care staff.

“We stand by those on strike who are demanding not only pay justice but a long term commitment by government to invest in the NHS as a publicly funded and delivered system once again capable of providing first class care to patients, irrespective of the ability to pay.

“The future of our NHS is now at stake and the coordinated national demonstrations on January 28 are to give voice to our collective anger, and to tell staff: ‘we understand why you are on strike, and we stand by you 100 per cent’.”

A full list of day of action events can be found on the KONP website.

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