EVERY Doctor, nurse, patient and staff member that joined the Xmas mass picket outside Chase Farm Hospital last Wednesday agreed that the only way to save the hospital is to occupy the departments threatened with closure.
The mass Xmas picket of Chase Farm was called by the North East London Council of Action and support for the picket was absolutely solid as health workers and local residents joined in the picket and passing motorists continuously honked there horns in support.
While on the picket, a nurse, furious at her threatened eviction demanded the occupation not only of Chase Farm Hospital but of the threatened on-site nurses quarters.
Gloria Ankrah, a nurse working in mental health, said: ‘I have worked at Chase Farm for 20 years and I am retiring next year in June.
‘I have asked for an extension for just six months to stay in the nurses residencies on Chase Farm where I have lived with my husband for two decades.
‘But they have given me a court order to kick me out. Why are they kicking me out of my home?
‘The nurses homes are being sold off and the nurses that live in them are being evicted.
‘I am really angry, I’m going to be homeless. I have no money to go out and rent privately. This is why we must occupy Chase Farm Hospital and we should also occupy the nurses quarters and stop the closure.’
Bill Rogers secretary of the North East London Council of Action said: ‘We had a successful march through Enfield on December the 10th and now we have a really lively mass xmas picket and the Young Socialists have a good turn out.
‘We are stepping up the campaign and as from January 9th we will be having a continuous daily picket.
‘Everyone I have spoken to today has supported the call for an occupation of the hospital to prevent the closure.
‘Every car and lorry is beeping its horn as it goes past and all the pickets are in high spirits in xmas hats, mass leafleting and speaking to doctors, nurses, staff and patients about the need to occupy and they are winning solid support.’
A delegation of ex-Visteon workers came to join the picket line.
Dom Barone said: ‘We occupied the Visteon car part factory that made the parts for Fords.
‘We won our struggle and beat the company and got our redundancy money through our occupation.
‘What was important is that at Visteon we had a rota to make sure that all the gates were covered and before that that we had people in the factory occupying 24/7.
‘The same is true here at Chase Farm, we will have to do a rota for our daily picket starting January 9th.
‘When you occupy you need a strong occupation all the time.
‘Occupying is the only way we can win, we need this hospital for everyone in the community.
‘The other hospitals are not easy to get to, especially if you have not got a car and you are old.
‘This government does not seem to be listening or caring about workers health or pensions or jobs.
‘They are the cause of why there is so much unemployment and all they do is look after the rich.’
Louise Fletcher, who works as part of the bank staff in Chase Farm Hospital said: ‘Occupying Chase Farm hospital is a great idea because I think that it is disgusting that they want to get rid of the service in one of the biggest boroughs in the whole of London.
‘The people who make these decisions should try to take a bus from Cheshunt to Barnet with a screaming child with a broken arm and see how politicians find that!’
Civil servant Martina Longuiera said: ‘There are not enough resources in the borough of Enfield to support its residents with out Chase Farm.
‘Recently I have used the services at Chase and they have been excellent, this is worth fighting for.
‘This will be felt more widely than just the patients and staff, this is a test case for the whole NHS.
‘Occupation must be supported. I fully advocate occupying as long as it is in a way that will not impede the running of the hospital itself.
Dick Chitolie said: ‘I am the official Chase Farm Flying Picket!
‘I have made my own placard, it says “Lemon Dave, must go!’ on one side and on the other side says “Bring back Tony, he is a better liar!”.
‘Chase Farm cannot be closed. We won the fight against closure so they brought in a body of fraudsters to take control and shut down the main facilities, maternity, paediactrics and the A&E.
‘Chase Farm Hospital provides good health care. I am here to support the North East London Council of Action and if they say occupy then I am with them all the way.’
YS member Leon Johnson said: ‘I have come down here today as a Young Socialist from Enfield to support the picket.
‘It is a great way to support my local hospital.
‘I feel strongly about this issue and held the lead banner on the march to save Chase Farm through Enfield town.
‘This is the tip of the iceberg. It is only a matter of time before the current structure of government will collapse due to its own greed and great incompetence.
‘I want to be there to give it a kick. We have to form our own workers republic and get rid of the unnecessary middlemen and top earners who are just criminals.’
Shannon Judson, who lives in Potters Bar, said: ‘This is the closest hospital for me and my family.
The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) is going to be closing down and that is in the other direction so I am situated between two hospitals, both of which are threatened with closure.
‘It is absolutely essential to occupy the hospital and stop the closure.
‘The NHS is a brilliant service that must be defended for the simple reason that if you are sick you get top quality treatment free of charge, they sort you out.’
A young girl of 14 Chandrika, who was looking after her deaf father who had been in the hospital for treatment, said: ‘Chase Farm is a great hospital and it does not deserve to be closed, a lot of people use it and we have to stop the closure.
‘When they try to close the hospital I will join in and help with the occupation of the hospital to stop it from being closed down.’
Stephen Steppings from Hackney Young Socialists said: ‘I got out of my bed at six to come down to Chase Farm Hospital, it was still dark when I got up!
‘That is how strongly I feel about saving Chase Farm.
‘During the march I was on the megaphone all the way and it was really powerful.
‘The Young Socialists are going to play a very important part in the occupation of Chase Farm Hospital, very much so.’
Patient Mbumba Moto said: ‘I like the doctors at Chase Farm. They are quick to see you, yet they are patient and are prepared to give you time.
‘If everyone sticks together I am sure that we are going to save Chase Farm.’
Antonia, who works in a supermarket and is in the USDAW union, said: ‘It is appaling what they plan to do to Chase. It is ridiculous to put budgets and health costs before people’s lives.
‘Whatever we must do, we must do!
‘Occupation is fantastic. This government is playing games with people’s lives, they must be kicked out.’
Local resident Taiwo Kolawole said: ‘They want the NHS to be like the health service in America where you have to get health insurance.
‘In the states if you have no job then you have no health insurance, which means that if you get sick you die!
‘Why should only the privileged get good health care and a good life?
‘In the US they wish and dream of having an NHS like we have.
‘People fought to keep the structure of the NHS running.
‘To destroy this structure is easy, to build it takes years.
‘We have to fight and maintain the NHS, what ever the cost it is worth it.
‘I would definitely help with the occupation of the hospital to stop its closure.’
Paul Da’Costa who works in medical records at Chase Farm said: ‘The more people we get involved in the struggle the better.
I absolutely support the policy of occupation. They must not privatise the NHS, it must be for the public.
‘People cannot afford private health.
‘The staff at Barnet and North Middlesex Hospital would not be able to cope with the influx of maternity and A&E patients.
‘They are stretched to the limit as it is. And I would just like to add that increasing the pension age to 66 is disgraceful!’