Borough residents hailed the NHS as “our greatest institution” after staging a protest to raise awareness of the threat of further privatisation.
Members of a social media group and Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield Momentum took to the streets of Leigh to stand in solidarity with NHS workers, having been inspired to do so by a similar demo in Wigan last week.
Around 40 residents from across the borough gathered on Spinning Jenny Way, wielding placards with message of support and even urging drivers to “honk if you love the NHS.”
They were also supported by the attendance of several councillors.
Local representatives included Leigh South’s Coun Charles Rigby, Anita Thorpe and Keith Cunliffe of Leigh East, Paula Wakefield from Astley, Golborne’s Richard Barber and Wigan Central’s George Davies.
Demo organiser Jess Eastoe said: “I felt strongly that we had to raise awareness. You see it (NHS cuts) in the media, but people don’t really put it to the front of their own agenda until it’s too late really.
“We need to protect it, it’s our greatest institution and we need to keep it.”
Jess, who is also a member of the GMB union, added that the involvement of private companies in the health service was a factor in organising the protest.
She said: “Because they are not funding enough staff and other things, cuts are being made where they shouldn’t be.
We are seeing seven-hour waits across the NHS because of it.”
She said a privatised health service would also “divide the nation”, saying:” There are people who can afford private health care but there are a lot of people who can’t, or already have an illness that would cost too much money to treat.”
Plans are now afoot to stage further demonstrations across Wigan and Leigh in February, which will coincide with a national rally taking place in several cities across the country.