A group of mothers and other campaigners arrived in London today after a 300-mile march to protest at the privatisation of health services. The so-called People's March, which followed in the footsteps of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, began in mid-August.
The protest took in more than 20 towns and cities, with union activists and other supporters joining the six women from Darlington. Organisers said 5,000 people took part in the last leg from Red Lion Square in Holborn to Trafalgar Square, where they were addressed by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham addressed the crowd
Speaking ahead of the rally, Mr Burnham said the "Darlo mums" symbolise the concern felt by millions across the UK for the future of the NHS. He said: "Surely even the great Nye Bevan couldn't have imagined a group with more faith and fight for his NHS than these Darlington mums. In them, David Cameron has more than met his match and their fighting spirit will give hope to people everywhere that the NHS can be rescued from the damage caused by his Government."
A Department of Health spokesman said: "Use of the private sector in the NHS represents only 6% of the total NHS budget - an increase of just 1% since May 2010. Charities, social enterprises and other healthcare providers continue to play an important role for the NHS, as they have done for many years - however, it is now local doctors and nurses who make decisions about who is best placed to provide care for their patients."