Protesters bring London to standstill

Hundreds of British activists have occupied Westminster Bridge in London in a last-ditch effort to stop ratification of the National Health Service (NHS) reform bill at the House of Lords.

Protesters closed the bridge on Sunday in a symbolic act that disconnected parliament from St Thomas’ Hospital, on the other side of the Thames, creating severe disruption in central London, British media reported.

During the protest, crowds chanted “we are the 99%” — a slogan associated with the Wall Street protests in New York, and activists unveiled a huge banner reading, “Save our NHS.”

“By blocking Westminster Bridge we symbolically block the bill from getting from parliament to our hospitals,” organisers said.

“Yes, it will be disruptive. Yes, it will stop the traffic. But this is an emergency and we have to shout as loud as we can,” they added.

Trade unionists, pensioners, health workers and comedians, including TV personality Mark Thomas, also attended the protest gathering.

“Peaceful protest and civil disobedience have a long and proud history in this country, and are a perfectly legitimate response to plans that no-one voted for and no-one wants,” said Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS).

The health and social care bill will be discussed at the Lords this week.

Earlier in September, trade unions announced that millions of public sector workers would walk out their jobs on November 30th in their battle with the government over pensions.

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