|'It's About Saving Lives' - Save Our Hospitals|
Rally Saturday 27th April
Residents, politicians and health workers turned out in Southall, Acton and Ealing on Saturday (27th April) in a show of strength against proposals to radically change local hospital services.
Health bosses plan to shut A & E services at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals,and cut other services including the maternity unit at Ealing Hospital.
Meena Toor met some of the protesters:
The march, began at 11.30 in Southall Park and later from Acton and ended at 14.00 at Ealing Common. Crowds of people from different races and faiths marching together - many joined in with the communal chanting of “No to Privatisation”. “Hands off our hospitals” and “They say cut backs, we say fight back.”
Southall resident, Shashee Sharma, has suffered two strokes and now needs regular check-ups. She says its vital to have a local hospital: “When someone gets sick – Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or anyone – they go to Ealing because they don’t know what’s wrong.'' She is fearful what will happen if the services are removed.
Husband and Wife, David and Anna Windiette both work at Ealing Hospital. Anna volunteers at the League of Friends cafe and David works part-time in medical records. Anna explains that “I had asthma attacks that required me to go to the hospital three times. I live around the corner so it helped.''
Retired London Transport bus conductor, Ram Lal Dub Aryan, was at the demo on behalf of his wife, who was working her shift at Ealing Hospital, he's angry about the propsals insisting “there is money…the closures are just an excuse”.
Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB trade union member, placed the blame firmly on the Prime Minister saying: ''‘Cameron is trying to run down the NHS and say it’s not working, and then he will sell it to venture capitalists in the city. What he’s trying to do is create a society that’s us and them.''
The rally was supported by Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative politicians.
Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Southall, confirmed that Ealing’s political parties are united against the closures:
“The huge numbers of people who joined this march are a testimony to the upset and anger in Ealing over the Government’s planned closure of the A&E services at Ealing Hospital.
“It's important to give the message that all communities – irrespective of political beliefs, irrespective of their faiths, irrespective of where they come from – are united to save the National Health Service.''
Steve Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, spoke of the destruction of the NHS: ''It’s very easy to smash a window; it’s very hard to put it back together again. It’s very easy to destroy the health service provision in West London; it’s going to be very, very hard to put it back together again. Already, we’re seeing the consequences of this ill thought-out privatisation gesture.''
John McDonald, MP for Hayes and Harlington, believes what will happen in Ealing will have a knock-on effect at hospitals in other boroughs: “Ealing A&E being closed means that Hillingdon A&E will be swamped, and won’t be able to cope with additional numbers. Our services can’t cope at the moment; we’re doing a good job, but struggling under the demand.
“What I'm really worried about is decisions like this will cost people's lives. There will be people in Ealing and Hillingdon that simply will not get access to medical services.
Up on the stage, speakers included GLA member Dr Onkar Sahota and MPs Stephen Pound, Andy Slaughter, John McDonnell and Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton, Angie Bray.
She believes the rally was an important step in the campaign : '' "The strength of the local hospital campaign has won us a review of this reckless decision. We now need to continue the fight to ensure those conducting the review recognise the strength of feeling across Ealing and Acton that to lose the four closest A&Es that serve the community would be absolutely devastating."
The Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Ealing Council, Gary Malcolm says:
For Ealing Council Leader Julian Bell, the importance of the campaign’s message can be summed up simply: He says:
''I met here someone here at the rally that uses the A&E, the last time she used it, she only had five minutes to get there otherwise she would have died. It’s about saving lives and protecting our vital services.”
The next stage in the campaign is a London-wide protest scheduled on Saturday 18th May. Participants will be meeting at 12 noon at Jubilee Gardens, Waterloo, to march to the Department of Health.
Find out more about the campaign here.
April 30th 2013