LAST Tuesday a mass picket of Chase Farm hospital was organised by the North East London Council of Action.
The pickets won support from doctors, nurses, patients and local residents who agreed with their policy of occupying the hospital to stop the closure.
Pickets mass-leafleted the gates and also won big support for the march through Enfield on December 10 to organise the occupation of Chase Farm to defend the hospital.
Motorists beeped their horns in support and passers-by joined in the picket and spoke to News Line about their determination to defeat the governments plans to close their hospital.
Suzy Bartlett, a care home worker, said: ‘I fail to understand how a hospital so close to the M25 with ideal facilities and A&E services for the surrounding community of Enfield and Harringay can be treated with such contempt as to threaten to close us down.
‘The occupation of the hospital is inevitable owing to the anger and frustration of the local community and the NHS employees.
‘This is such a vital asset and a real credit to the health services, it must not close.’
Ex-Visteon workers, who successfully occupied their factory and won, joined the picked line.
Ex-Visteon worker Linda Bartle said: ‘We have to occupy Chase Farm hospital to stop it from closing down. How long will we wait at A&E’s at other hospitals if they shut this A&E down?
‘At our factory called Visteon, we had nothing to lose. We had lost our jobs, they should have done the decent thing and given us redundancy packages but they didn’t.
‘Ford, who Visteon made parts for, didn’t honour the terms and conditions that had been promised so we occupied our factory.
‘We stopped the machinery going out and we took control of the building.
‘We won redundancy packages, holiday pay and got paid for hours that we had already worked. You have to be in it to win it. We have to fight. We are bringing a large delegation from Visteon on the march to occupy Chase Farm hospital on December 10 and we are bringing our banner.’
A nurse coming off night shift at Chase Farm, Barbara Ramu stopped to talk to pickets she said: ‘We must keep this hospital open, it is for the local people and that is why I support the call to occupy it. It is convenient and has easy access and it is essential and vital and ours!’
Sam Bush said: ‘I was born at Chase Farm hospital, I have had a number of operations here and Chase Farm hospital saved my life!
‘If, when I was just six weeks old, I had not been rushed to Chase Farm hospital for an emergency but taken in an ambulance to the A&E at Barnet or North Middlesex hospital, then there is a chance that I would not have survived.
‘All my mates are Enfield orientated, so they will support the march as well, so I have the potential to bring a big group on the march as a preparation to occupy the hospital and stop the closure.’
Claudia Greenford, who had just had an interview at Chase Farm, said: ‘I want to work for Chase Farm or Barnet hospital as a nurse. I have been working in the NHS for a very long time. The NHS is very efficient, very reliable and they make sure that the staff are well trained.
‘I was working and training at Barts and now that I am newly qualified I want to work at Chase Farm or Barnet hospital.
‘They must keep Chase Farm hospital open because if they close it down where are patients going to go? Are they going to travel all the way to Barnet? It is just not practical, Barnet is already functioning at capacity, it just will not cope. That is why I support all action including the occupation of the hospital to keep Chase Farm open.’
Her friend Barbara Kelly, also a newly qualified nurse, added: ‘This hospital has so much to offer the patients and it has so much to offer student nurses and staff that want training. It is a vital resource for everybody. I will definitely be coming on the march and I support the occupation of the hospital.’
A patient being treated at Chase Farm, Clive Norris, said: ‘The big joke is that we have paid for this hospital, we have paid for it through our taxes, we have paid for every brick of this hospital.
‘We have probably paid for it twice over, so why should it close?
‘I have been down to visit the occupiers outside St.Pauls twice. It is about time that everybody stands up and says what they really think about this system.
‘The only way is to occupy, writing a letter is just not going to cut it really.
‘The only way to save Chase Farm is to occupy it and when it is being occupied I will come and help in any way that I can.’
Student Nurse Suko Khumalo said: ‘This is my first time at the Chase Farm site and I have to say that this is a lovely area, nice and green, a great place to recover away from the busy city, it is peaceful!
‘It is terrible that the government are cutting the things that people need.
‘This government needs to go!
‘I support Wednesday’s strike action because people are standing up and doing something about it.
‘Action is being taken and the only action that is going to save the hospital is occupation.
‘We are not going to allow the government to control everything.
‘They are not living our lives, they are not affected by the closure of Chase Farm hospital so they do not care.
‘It is us who will be affected by the closure, so drastic action must be taken.’
Pensioner Mrs Webb told News Line: ‘I think that it is essential that we keep open the A&E, maternity and paediatrics at Chase Farm because Enfield is expanding, More and more people are coming in.
‘The ageing population is not able to travel to these distant hospitals.
‘I certainly support the policy of occupying Chase Farm hospital. I support anything that will work to save our hospital.’
Local resident Alison Gracie said: ‘We have used this hospital a lot. I have a son who is four and he broke his leg and had to be taken to A&E, he then stayed in Chase Farm for four weeks and the service was excellent.
‘So we are strongly in support of an occupation to keep it open.
‘We feel very strongly about Chase Farm and every time I think about the closure I worry about what would happen if there was an emergency and we had to travel the distance.
‘I also know a lot of mums-to-be, if they shut maternity where are they going to go?’
A pregnant woman Emma Rogers who was using the maternity services at Chase said: ‘The care that I have received is first class and maternity must be supported and the staff jobs must be protected. We can not allow them to lose their jobs!’
Burse Beena Jose said: ‘I work in a nursing home and I used to work for the private sector but now I have decided that I would like to move over to the NHS.
‘I have had an interview and there were a lot of other people who wanted to work at Chase Farm and Barnet hospital there, we were interviewed in groups.
‘I want to improve my nursing skills and you can not do that in a private care home. The NHS trains you properly so that you can improve your nursing skills.
‘I am in a profession that cares for people. Providing care for people means ensuring that the facilities are there to enable care and that is why I support the plans to occupy Chase Farm hospital we can not allow such an important health facility to close down.’
London Underground worker Craig Adams said: ‘I agree with occupation. If it is going to work and draw attention to the issue then we should occupy the hospital.
‘One of the promises of the Tories before they were elected was that they were going to keep chase Farm hospital open.
‘I am absolutely disgusted by the Tories, I didn’t vote for them and I never will.
‘They are just looking after their Tory mates, the rich businessmen and multi millionaires. We definitely are not in it together.’
Bill Rogers secretary of the North East London Council of Action said: ‘We have been campaigning all over Enfield and we have been to Waltham Cross as well. The whole community supports what we are doing.
‘On the December 10 we want a mass march through Enfield and thousand of people have said they are going to come.
‘The purpose of the march is to act as a prelude to occupying the hospital to prevent the cuts and closures.
‘Nobody supports the cuts and closures except the bankers and the coalition.’