EALING MATERNITY ENTRANCE OCCUPIED! – Stop work on July 1 and march to the hospital to save it!

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Staffcoming to work at the hospital early morning give their support to the occupation
Staffcoming to work at the hospital early morning give their support to the occupation

THE occupation of Ealing Hospital is in full swing, with shifts ensuring that the entrance to the closure-threatened maternity department is occupied 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Local residents,workers, students and youth have all signed up to the rota to ensure that the maternity department at Ealing Hospital does not close.

They have occupied on the day when the last woman was admitted for a live birth. The full closure is due to take place on Wednesday the first of July.

The occupation is determined to stop it, and on July 1st a mass march has been called. The West London Council of Action has made a call for all shops and businesses to close between 12noon and 2pm, and for all bus workers, council workers, rail and tube workers and all workers to stop work, walk out and join the march to defend their local maternity service.

On Wednesday, hundreds of angry demonstrators took to the streets of Southall to demand that the maternity department remains open.
While the march was assembling, New Line spoke to Kornel Gaal from Wood Green Young Socialists. He said: ‘Free health care is the right of every human being and it should not be limited. For example, the maternity ward in which I was born in Hungary has been closed and is the only one in town, so everybody has to travel to the city to give birth.

‘This is dangerous and stressful. If you give birth prematurely then you may give birth in the car on the way. This cannot be healthy.
‘I am opposed to the Tory government and the privatisation of the NHS and education.
‘We need to recruit young people who want to fight to improve the world.
‘We need world revolution. We want the Tories Out!

‘Occupying the hospital shows how determined we are. Either they back down from the closure, or face the consequences.’
Kavita Chand, a receptionist in the local GP surgery, said: ‘Where I work it is really busy. There are not enough doctors.

‘At the moment we have only one doctor on duty. One in the morning and one in the evening.
‘We have a Saturday clinic as a trial run. If Cameron wants 7-day-a-week GP surgery, then they have to provide fully trained staff.
‘You can’t have any Tom, Dick or Harry working in a GP surgery. Unless we have the staff, 7-day-a-week is unworkable.

‘It is the same with this 111 number. It is a load of rubbish. 111 is used for non-emergencies as opposed to 999.

‘However, the phone advisers don’t know what they are talking about. They are not medically trained. They are receptionists like me.
‘The maternity at Ealing Hospital must stay open.

‘I am visiting my cousin who lives here in Southall and she gave birth a week ago.
‘There were complications and rather than send her to Ealing they sent her to Hillingdon because of the closure plan.
‘That is why I am coming to join the occupation.’

Gurmit Dhamrait told News Line: ‘They must not close maternity down. What they are doing is totally wrong for local people.
‘You have to travel too far to the other hospitals. There is no parking and it is a nightmare.
‘They close down hospitals and build private flats for the rich.
‘We can occupy and we can win!’

Sarwan Zafar said: ‘I am with this fight. I am joining the occupation. This is mostly an Indian and Pakistani community. There really is no hospital nearby. That is why Ealing Hospital must be saved.’

His friend Natt Mohan said: ‘Everybody who lives near Ealing Hospital and uses the hospital likes the hospital. It’s a good hospital. It’s local and a lot of people live in this area.
‘I am joining the march and I am going inside the hospital to stop them closing maternity down.’

The march began at Miri Piri Gurdwara Temple on Southall Broadway.
‘No Cuts, No Closures! Defend Ealing Maternity!’ shouted hundreds of local resident supporters as they marched through the busy shopping centre.

Sophie McEvoy said: ‘I work at West Middlesex Hospital in Isleworth.
‘The closure of the maternity services at Ealing Hospital will have a massive impact on all the hospitals in the surrounding areas.
‘I believe in the NHS and I believe in saving the NHS and that is why I am here today.’
The march made its way through the streets winning tremendous support from passers-by and passing motorists who honked their horns and cheered.

When the march reached the entrance of Ealing Hospital, there was a rally which was addressed by Tony McEvoy, Secretary of the West London Council of Action, who said: ‘We thank everybody here for taking part in the march and in the occupation of the Maternity Unit to stop its closure.

‘This is no protest action. We know that if maternity goes, that the closure of the hospital is next.

‘We have started the fight here to mobilise the forces to bring down this Tory government.

‘The working class is the most powerful force in society, but I have to say that with this march and occupation, the trade unions should be leading this.

‘We are occupying the maternity today and we will continue that occupation.
‘On July 1st, there will be another march organised.

‘We call on all workers in their local area to stop work on that day – the bus drivers, tube workers, council workers – to join the march and make it a march of thousands to march to the hospital to defend the occupation.

‘It is a matter of life and death. The trade union leaders must be forced into action.

‘We urge everybody to take part in the occupation. We must not let this hospital close.’

Also addressing the rally, Salvinda Dhillon from the Indian Workers Association told the rally: ‘We fully support the action today. Lives are at risk if they close maternity down.

‘I remember when one child in our community died because they were not attended to for 48 hours on a maternity ward because of a shortage of staff.

‘Imagine what would happen if Ealing maternity closes. How many more mothers will lose their babies?

‘Enough is enough. It is time to fight. I would call on the trade unions to make it a success.

‘We call on workers’ organisations and community organisations. We call on the Gurdwaras and Mosques to make a united stand to support this occupation.’

The demonstrators then went into the hospital, but were blocked by police and security staff from entering maternity. However, when Labour MP John McDonnell arrived it was decided to occupy the entrance to maternity.

The police fell back and left, and the occupiers set up for the duration of the struggle.

In the occupation, Aminata Selle from south London, said: ‘I’ve come to occupy because closing maternity is not an option.

‘While we were marching, I told local people to join us and march with us and I called especially on women because we need our maternity.

‘A lot of people joined as we marched. I convinced a lady who had a pram and an Ealing baby to march with us all the way.

‘Why are they closing maternity? There is no good reason.
‘It is time for a fight. It is time for us to occupy and it is time for us to win!’