Banks under siege as protesters launch 'Emergency Operation' to highlight the Government's NHS cutsBy Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:44 PM on 28th May 2011
Activists protesting against NHS cuts yesterday occupied High Street banks across the country and transformed them into make-shift hospitals.Members of UK Uncut put on scrubs, bandages and fake blood in branches of Natwest, Barclays, Santander and HSBC. Some branches were said to have been forced to close.
Police made nine arests in connection with a protest in Manchester.
Branches in London, Plymouth, Brighton, Glasgow, Bristol, Oxford, Leeds Liverpool, Bournemouth, Ipswich and Dundee were targeted.
The action was spearheaded by the campaigning group which was joined by trade unionists and other supporters.
Anti-cuts: A group of students make their presence felt laying down on the pavemen in front of a Police cordon outside a branch of HSBC in Camden Town, north London
Occupation: A melee ensues as a group of activists try to force their way past a police line in Camden
The national protest was intended to draw attention to the banks' role in creating the national deficit, which in turn has led to the proposals made for changes within the National Health Service.
Activists dressed in doctors' coats and armed with fake blood had been plotting to enter 35 banks across the UK and set up mock hospitals and 'operating theatres'.
However, some were forced to stage their protests on the streets outside when branches were closed or police lined up to keep them out.
In Camden, north London close to 100 protesters staged actions outside three banks in Camden and held a mock trial of the health secretary, Andrew Landsley.
A protester dressed as the MP was put in the stocks and pelted with tomatoes.
Barclays, HSBC and Natwest were all targeted in Camden - at Natwest protesters forced their way past a police line to gain entry to the bank.
Support: UK Uncut helped organise the protests which are against the Government's impending NHS cuts
You can bank on us: The protesters are halted by police as they target another bank in Camden
Protesters outside a branch of HSBC in Newcastle were joined by the musician and activist Billy Bragg, who addressed them by megaphone.
While in Brixton one group managed to enter a Natwest bank and stage their planned theatrical protest.
'The NHS did not cause the financial crisis – the banks did and are continuing to make billions in profits. And yet it is the NHS which is being cut,' said Candy Udwin of the Camden Keep Our NHS Public campaign, which took part.
'Here in Camden there are hundreds of jobs under threat and that is why protests like this are being strongly supported.'
Health worker and UK Uncut supporter Rosie Beech, 29, said: 'David Cameron said he wasn't going to cut the NHS. He lied.
'50,000 NHS staff will lose their jobs, whilst the taxpayer continues to subsidise the banks.
No entry: Activists, some of whom wore hospital scrubs, try to make their way past police and into a branch of Natwest in Camden
Flashpoint: Protesters clash with police as they attempt to gain entry to the bank
'Why is the Government cutting the NHS and privatising what's left rather than forcing our broken banking system to pay up?
Dubbed 'The Emergency Operation', the day of protests is the first big action organised by UK Uncut since the arrests of 145 protesters during a sit-in at Fortnum and Mason in London on 26 March, when more than 250,000 people who took to the streets to protest against government spending cuts.
UK Uncut has staged a series of campaigns against tax avoidance and public spending reductions since it was formed in October.
A Barclays spokesman said: 'We are aware of the protests and our priority is the safety of our customers and colleagues and to ensure that the branches can continue to operate wherever possible.'