‘We’ve had a lively picket today,’ North East London Council of Action secretary Bill Rogers told News Line outside Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, north London, on Tuesday.
The Council of Action was formed to stop the planned closure of the hospital’s A&E, Maternity and Paediatrics departments.
Rogers added: ‘People have signed our petition, and many joined the Council of Action.
‘Everybody we’ve spoken to supports the march we are organising on July 26, as is my ASLEF branch.
‘People are not generally aware there is a consultation going on, that’s why the march is important.
‘We are preparing to occupy Chase Farm, should that be necessary.’
Local resident Tina Goss stopped to support the picket.
She said: ‘My grandchild was born at Chase Farm.
‘Closing the maternity unit would be disgusting. We need it.
‘The nearest maternity is miles away.
‘All they need is to put more money into the hospital, not close it.
‘I don’t think they are listening to us, the government, only to themselves, and looking after themselves as well, they don’t care about the people.
‘We have to take our own action to stop the closure.
‘We should definitely get ready to occupy to keep the hospital open and running.
‘The trade unions should be ready to defend an occupation with strike action.’
Tina’s daughter Hayley Leonard added: ‘You hear bad things said about this hospital but myself and everyone I know say it’s brilliant.
‘The workers are good at their jobs but they don’t have enough money and resources.
‘We should take the government on and get a workers government.’
Beth Dorey, Hackney YS, said: ‘I’m here to support the picket and stop privatisation of NHS hospitals.
‘I think occupying the hospital at Chase Farm to stop it closing is a great thing.
‘People need to show how they feel about what is happening in this country.
‘The government are not listening to the people.
‘You’ve had demonstrations and they didn’t listen, it calls for stronger action.’
Local resident Pas Parente added: ‘I’ve got two children and one on the way.
‘Should something happen, you want to be near a hospital.
‘But it’s the elderly I’m worried about – my mother and father are getting on a bit.
‘Instead of spending money on putting up houses, they should be spending money on the hospital.
‘I agree with occupying the hospital and getting the trade unions to back it.’
Evelyn Obeng, another local resident, said: ‘I don’t think the closure plan is a good idea because this hospital is marvellous. It’s a good hospital.
‘We have to take action to stop the closure.
‘I agree with a sit-in to keep it open.’
Hospital out-patient Linda Levy added: ‘I’m concerned that you won’t have your local A&E to go to, and if you have an accident you’d be stuck in the back of an ambulance in miles of traffic.
‘We have to keep Chase Farm open.’
Local resident Ramadan Ismail added: ‘I think authorities in general are losing sight of priorities and the people they should be serving.
‘I’m opposed to the closure plan.
‘The consultation is just a legal procedure – to do what they want in any case.
‘We’ve seen it all before with the Post Office closures etc.
‘We have to object to the plan and the local council has to.
‘I’m for occupying and taking over the management of the hospital – to keep it working and have people who care about it running it.
Scott Dove, Harlesden YS, took part in the picket. He said: ‘I’m here to keep Chase Farm open.
‘People say there is a shortage of beds for hospitals.
‘To close this hospital down will mean there will be even less beds.
‘Moving the A&E to Barnet, which is miles away for people to travel, would be dangerous, especially for the elderly.
‘We have to occupy to stop the closure because they don’t listen to people’s views or opinions.
‘The trade unions should back us. They are not doing enough.
‘The leaders don’t want to fight the government which is privatising the NHS.’
Out-patient Maddy Davis said: ‘The A&E, Maternity and Paediatrics should stay open – services should stay in the area.
‘It’s right to fight the closure.
‘We should do everything we have to, to keep Chase Farm open.’
Local resident Peter Kokonas commented: ‘The closure plan is not fair.
‘There is already a shortage of beds so closing the A&E would be dangerous.
‘If anyone’s condition was life-threatening and they had to go all the way to Barnet, it could be crucial.
‘I want to keep the hospital open with all departments at all costs.
‘I would support an occupation and any demonstration to stop the closure.
‘The unions must be made to take action to back any occupation.’
Out-patient Rajwantee Mautbar told News Line: ‘I’m against the plans to close the A&E and Maternity.
‘We have to stop them. I support occupying the Hospital to keep it open and working.’
Her partner Naresh Ladwa added: ‘Closure would be a disaster for the people of Enfield and the neighbouring area.
‘It would also put a lot of strain on Barnet, which can’t cope already.’
Michelle O’Field was taking her 11-year-old son, Jarred, for follow-up treatment for a broken wrist.
She said: ‘It’s quite disgusting what they are planning.
‘It’s the best hospital that we have locally.
‘Barnet is too far away and to small as it is.
‘To put more patients there would be a disaster.
‘North Middlesex is the next busiest, with longer waiting hours.
‘I support an occupation to keep the hospital open.
‘The trade unions should defend the occupation with strike action if necessary.’