PREPARATIONS are underway for a public march through North Yorkshire and the North-East in protest at what could be dramatic cuts to NHS services.

The Footprints March for the NHS is to set off from the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton on Saturday, October 22, and over the following seven days will make its way to hospitals in County Durham and Teesside.

It is being planned in response to the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) by NHS England, which is looking at reorganising health services in the region.

March organisers say the plans will lead to more NHS privatisation and further cuts to the health service within County Durham, Darlington, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby, an area identified as “Footprint 3” by NHS England.

Local NHS bosses have to submit their Sustainability and Transformation Plan to NHS England by October 21.

Organisers of the march fear at least two or three of the A&E departments in the region could be under threat of closure as the NHS reorganisation looks at North Durham, Darlington, North Tees, James Cook and Friarage hospitals.

In a report, NHS England has reported sustainability planning is necessary as the NHS does not have enough money to continue over the next five years, lacking £30 billion, and the healthcare system is costing “significantly more" every year, partly driven by an "ageing population with multiple and complex care needs”.

Jo Land, one of the Footprints march organisers, said: “We are organising this march because we believe that these planned cuts are going to mean the end of the NHS as we know it."

The march will begin with a rally at the Golden Lion Hotel on Northallerton High Street between 10am and 12pm, before leaving the Friarage Hospital at 12.30pm.

From there, the march will make its way to Brompton, Croft, Blackwell and is expected arrive in Darlington town centre at about 5pm, covering about ten miles in total.

The following day the march will make its way from Darlington Memorial Hospital to Bishop Auckland Hospital. From then the march will make its way to a different hospital in the region each day:

• Monday, October 24: Bishop Auckland Hospital to Shotley Bridge Hospital

• Tuesday, October 25: Shotley Bridge Hospital to University Hospital of North Durham

• Wednesday, October 26: University Hospital of North Durham to Hartlepool Hospital

• Thursday, October 27: Hartlepool Hospital to James Cook Hospital (Middlesbrough)

• Friday, October 28: James Cook Hospital (Middlesbrough) to North Tees Hospital (Stockton)

• Saturday, October 29: North Tees Hospital (Stockton) to Darlington Memorial Hospital

Along the way there will be meetings and rallies with speakers and live music entertainment.

The march is being backed by 999 Call for the NHS, Keep Our NHS Public Durham, People’s Assembly North East, Unite Community Tees and Darlington Trades Council.

Information on the march is available at