Tens of thousands of people are to rally on the streets of London to demand greater funding for the NHS ahead of its 70th birthday.
Nurses, doctors and other health workers will all take part in the protest on Saturday, which has been timed to mark the impending milestone coming up next Thursday, 5 July.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be among those to address the crowds, alongside other politicians, actors, musicians and union leaders, to call for an end to the “ruinous” privatisation of health services up and down the country.
Mr Corbyn will slam the approach taken by the Conservatives as “appalling”, and dismiss a boost to the NHS budget recently announced by the prime minister as hardly enough to keep it running at its current level.
“Deliberate under-funding of services, and squeezing the pay of our brilliant doctors, nurses and health staff, has pushed our NHS to the brink,” he will say.
“Every day there are shocking stories of unacceptable waiting times, ambulance delays and patients left on trolleys in corridors, and they’ve spent years selling off and contracting out our NHS bit by bit, leaving the NHS to be sued by private companies, like Virgin.
“Labour will end privatisation because our NHS should be about healthcare for all, not profits for a few.”
The rally will take place in the wake of damning new research by the TUC into the availability of GPs in England, with widespread shortages reported.
Even the best-provided area – Dorset – has a shortfall of 4%, and there are a whopping 43% fewer doctors than needed in Luton and Milton Keynes.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said a lack of funding had “left the NHS on the critical list”, with not enough beds, doctors and other healthcare staff.
“The best medicine for the NHS is the extra funding it needs, but the government is giving it too small a dose to bring it up to full health,” she said.
“We’re sending a message to the government today that our NHS needs a better deal and it must be publicly owned and provided so that every penny goes to patient care and not to private profits.”
Trade union GMB has also laid into the government over its NHS policy ahead of the rally, notably a new pay deal on offer for health workers.
It claims the proposed contracts would lead to a real terms pay cut of £2,500 for some staff.
National officer Rachel Harrison said: “Jeremy Hunt has some cheek imposing a real terms pay cut of thousands of pounds on hard-working NHS staff.
“On the NHS’s 70th birthday, the health secretary has soured the mood with his party pooper of a pay offer.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has played down the concerns, insisting that Theresa May’s recent spending commitment would benefit the NHS hugely.
A spokesman said an average annual funding increase of 3.4% was part of a “long-term plan for the NHS”, which would see it receive an extra £20.5bn per year by 2023/24.
From – SkyNews