LONDON, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of people marched in London Saturday to protest against "yet more austerity" in the health service.
Thought to be one of the biggest rallies in support of England's state-run National Health Service (NHS) in history, the march came amid warnings of an unprecedented crisis within health services, fueled by 20 billion pounds (24.59 U.S. dollars) worth of cuts scheduled by 2020.
Organizers said the national demonstration was a call to arms for those who care about the NHS, as "more austerity in the NHS represents a real risk to the safety of patients and the service," the British newspaper Independent reported.
According to BBC, an estimated 250,000 people took part in the march beginning in Tavistock Square and ending in Westminster, where speakers including Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, addressed the crowd.
Speaking to the protesters in Parliament Square, Corbyn said: "The NHS is in crisis, in crisis because of the underfunding in social care and the people not getting the care and support they need."
"It is not the fault of the staff. It is the fault of a government who has made a political choice," said the Labour leader.
The protest organizers said the government's proposed Sustainability Transformation Plans (STPs) across the NHS in England were a "smokescreen for further cuts" and the "latest instruments of privatization."
Last week, it was reported that an increase in "excess deaths" in England and Wales could be linked to underfunding in the NHS. Researchers publishing a study claimed "relentless cuts" could have been behind as many as 30,000 deaths in 2015, but the government refuted the report.