NHS 'Jarrow March': Hundreds protest against 'privatisation'
About 500 people have gathered for a march from South Tyneside to London in protest against NHS "privatisation".
A group of mothers from Darlington are recreating the 1936 Jarrow March against poverty and unemployment in the Great Depression.
Rehana Azam, GMB officer and one of those taking part, said the "motive of profit" was coming before healthcare.
An NHS spokesman said its budget had been increased by £12.7bn and it was committed to providing a free service.
The march organisers, known as the "darlomums", said they did not want to "passively watch the rapid dismantling, privatisation and destruction" of the NHS.
"We don't want to see private companies operating in the NHS under the heading of "efficiency" when we know they are accountable to their shareholders, who are only interested in maximum profit before patient healthcare," they said.
About 40 protesters are expected to walk all the way from the rally in Jarrow to the Houses of Parliament.
"We're going to collect stories, we're going through to 23 towns and cities," Ms Azam said.
"It's over three weeks, it's nearly 300 miles. We will collect all those stories and we will deliver them to the politicians."
The march will pass through Chester-le-Street on Sunday, Ferry Hill on Tuesday and Darlington on Wednesday.
It is expected to reach London on 6 September.