Health workers pull off Millennium Bridge stunt in campaign against nuclear weapons

Doctors and health workers in the North East took a stand against nuclear weapons during a demonstration on the Millennium Bridge.

Campaign group Medact North East, made up of GPs, pharmacists, young doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and public health professionals, unveiled a banner on the bridge in support of the UN Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The banner, which read “Healthcare workers for a ban on nuclear weapons”, was intended to draw attention to their campaign calling on the government to support the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty, which would make illegal nuclear weapons. This would give them the same status as chemical and biological weapons, cluster bombs and landmines.

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Medact says the UK government has not signed the UN nuclear ban treaty and is refusing to send an observer to the first meeting of signatories to be held in Vienna next week. The group asks the government to attend the meeting.

Protesters also sent letters to councils and MPs in the North East urging them to support the UN treaty through the ICAN Cities Appeal. Despite support from individual MPs and councillors, the group says councils across the region have yet to formally declare their support for the ban, which came into effect last year.



health workers gather to lay a banner from the Millennium Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead in support of a ban on nuclear weapons.” content=”https://i2-prod.chroniclelive.co.uk/incoming/article24262337.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_CCP_NEC_180622BANNER005JPG.jpg”/>
North East health workers gather to lay a banner from the Millennium Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead in support of a ban on nuclear weapons.

Dr Liz Waterston, 78, is a retired GP from Heaton who has spent decades campaigning against the use of nuclear weapons. She joined Medact members on the Millennium Bridge for Saturday’s protest. Liz, a member of Medact and IPPNW, said: “Once again we are looking into the abyss of nuclear war. I have been working for the abolition of nuclear weapons since I was 15 and in 2021, finally, we got a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

“We must now ensure that the nuclear-weapon states respect the treaty and destroy their nuclear weapons.”

Medact is a national organization that brings together the health community to campaign for health justice. Medact North East was formed in the 1980s and, in addition to campaigning against nuclear weapons, it campaigned for a Green New Deal.



Dr Elizabeth Waterston, one of the North East health workers, laid down a banner from the Millennium Bridge.
Dr Elizabeth Waterston, one of the North East health workers, laid down a banner from the Millennium Bridge.

Young doctor Penny Ellis was among those protesting in Newcastle on Saturday. She said: “Nuclear weapons have been a threat for longer than I have been alive. I am deeply concerned that we now live in a world where no head of state can remember Hiroshima.

“As a health worker, I care for sick people every day, but I cannot understand the human impact of a nuclear disaster. Its scale and severity would overwhelm any health system response.”

Dr Nate Aspray, a GP, said the use of nuclear weapons would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. “The growing risk of the use of nuclear weapons is a continuing threat to the health of our planet as a whole,” he said.

“While many countries are prepared to use nuclear weapons, their health care infrastructure is not and cannot be prepared for the humanitarian catastrophe that would result from the use of a single nuclear weapon internally of their borders; not to mention the profound implications of radiation on the health of women and children.

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