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Protesters in London back health staff as doctors prepare to strike

Demonstrators outside Downing Street on Saturday (Photo by Getty Images)

Thousands of protesters marched through London to the British prime minister’s residence to demand a better healthcare system in the UK.

The protest, which was organized by healthcare workers and activists on Saturday, went off in the city center and ended near the British prime minister’s residence just to support the healthcare workers who have held a series of strikes over bad pay conditions in the state-funded National Health Service (NHS).

Participants were seen carrying placards as they chanted slogans and demanded better wages and working conditions.

"Our NHS is being sliced up, diced up, carved up and sold off to anyone who wants to try and take it over," said Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the Labour Party, who also attended the rally.

The development comes as almost 40,000 junior doctors, who are an essential part of hospital care, are set to go on a three-day strike starting on Monday.

Monday’s upcoming strike would have a lasting impact on cancer care and waiting lists, the country’s top doctor has said.

The strike is said to severely disrupt services, with thousands of operations called off, according to Sir Stephen Powis, medical director of the NHS.

According to officials, it would take at least several weeks for the service to recover from the 72-hour walkout.

In response, NHS England said the doctors’ strike would be even more disruptive than recent walkouts by nurses and ambulance staff.

The NHS said it would “prioritize resources to protect emergency and critical care, maternity care and where possible prioritize patients who have waited the longest for elective care and cancer surgery,” but thousands of appointments and procedures will be canceled during the 72-hour strike.

UK’s inflation is currently at a 40-year high, with 10.1 percent in January.

Meanwhile, the Conservative government argues that giving public sector staff pay increases of 10 percent or more would drive inflation even higher.

The health secretary Steve Barclay promised to hold talks with the junior doctors’ representatives if they agreed to call off their walkout.

“Let’s have a constructive dialogue to make the NHS a better place to work and ensure we deliver the care patients need,” he wrote on Twitter.

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