PATIENTS, staff and local residents joined the North-East London Council of Action monthly picket of Chase Farm Hospital yesterday, and agreed with the call to occupy the hospital to stop the closure.
There was big support from cars and lorries, tooting their horns and waving from their vehicles as they passed.
Bill Rogers, secretary of the North-East London Council of Action, said: ‘It’s a good picket today.
‘They are pushing ahead with the cuts and closure of Chase Farm, so we are still planning to occupy the hospital and we do not accept the closure of paediatrics, maternity or the A&E.
‘Next week, Wednesday, at 7.30am, we would like people to join us up at Welwyn Garden City to picket the QEII Hospital, because they are in exactly the same boat as Chase Farm.
‘On September 12, our Council of Action is joining the Young Socialists lobby of the TUC.
‘We think it’s important that young people are given jobs, that education is defended, and that these tuition fees are abolished.
‘We are meeting people on the picket today who will also be joining in the lobby of the TUC.’
Margaret Mills, a staff nurse at Chase Farm Hospital, said: ‘This hospital is needed because of the area.
‘The population is growing. The elderly population can’t travel to North Mid and Barnet hospital.
‘The population in Enfield is staying older, that is a fact. People are living longer and we need the facilities.
‘I am just qualified and I’ve just got a job, they are very picky and I am one of the lucky ones.
‘At the end of the day, there are not enough nurses on the wards.
‘They are making all these cuts and then patients suffer because of lack of staff.
‘I agree with occupying to stop the closure because you are not only protecting the patients, but you are also protecting staff jobs.
‘It’s a really busy hospital and it’s a good hospital, there are ambulances coming in all the time.
‘They close a ward and then they are forced to open it again, so the need is there.’
Jean Francis, a local resident in Enfield, said: ‘Both my children were born at Chase Farm and I’ve always used it rather than North Middlesex, I’ve always preferred Chase Farm.
‘It’s got the feel of a nice hospital, the staff do their best and tend to be quite helpful.
‘They can’t just have one major hospital for a whole area the size of north London.
‘There are basic things that a country should provide for its citizens: health care, education, and decent housing.’
Lisa, who works in admin, said: ‘I work at Barnet hospital and that is a good hospital as well.
‘I don’t think they should close Chase Farm because the pressure will be too much on Barnet.
‘The catchment area would become too big.’
Barbara Skerratt said: ‘I work in Enfield with children with disabilities.
‘They require facilities at Chase Farm, especially if they have had something like an epileptic seizure.
‘By the time they get to hospital, they need to be seen urgently by the consultant.
‘Also, a lot of our special needs children get a lot of respiratory infections and need to be seen urgently for treatment.
‘The GPs, because they don’t have the expertise to deal with special needs children, frequently say: “take them straight to Chase Farm, don’t bring them to our surgery’’.
‘If there is a hospital closed down, then everyone goes to the next nearest hospital, and that produces chaos because they can’t manage.
‘It is also an assumption that people here have transport to get to places further away and many people in poorer communities don’t.
‘I am fully committed in standing by any action deemed necessary to support the people of Enfield get their access to hospital treatment.
‘Occupying is a peaceful, but structured and forceful action.
‘What are the government actually governing, if they are privatising and closing essential services?’
A patient, Julie, who had just been treated at Chase Farm for a fractured finger said: ‘I live in Potters Bar and the service is essential for me and my family.
‘One of my daughters broke her arm and my other daughter also fractured her finger.
‘She had to come back for physio and I can not fault the service.
‘Both my daughters were born here so I have a special attachment to Chase Farm.
‘We will never let it close!’
Young Yasmin Shah and her sister Jade spoke out about the importance of their hospital.
Yasmin said: ‘I was born at Chase Farm hospital and I used Chase Farm today, it is really nice and should not close down.’
Her sister Jade Shah added: ‘I was also born at Chase Farm and it has saved many lives.
‘The buildings have been here for a long time and the staff are really nice.’
A volunteer worker at Chase Farm, Chris Foley said: ‘I am a volunteer at Chase Farm.
‘There is going to be a big gap in Enfield if this service is not offered here.
‘I am a school teacher by trade and I have spare time during the holidays so this uses my time valuably.
‘I think that the TUC (Trade Union Congress) have to answer to the people they represent.
Young people lobbying the TUC is a great idea because they will be most effected by the future.
‘The leaders of the TUC need to be forward thinking and at the moment they are not!
‘The NHS is a great institution and must be defended at all costs.’
Ms Fraser a local council worker told News Line: ‘We are suffering a lot of cuts in Haringey council.
‘I am visiting my friend, she is a patient here.
‘I am concerned about how the cuts to staff and services effect the working class.
‘I definitely support the campaign to keep Chase Farm Hospital open and extend that support to keep every NHS hospital open.
‘It will be like the days of Thatcher with mass strike action, it is going to happen.
‘The union leaders need to get more youth involved so I support the YS lobby of the TUC.
A patient at Chase Farm James Williams said: ‘We demand that the locals should have a decent functioning hospital.
‘I live in Winchmill Hill so this is local for me.
‘My dad is a patient here as well and he suffers from arthritis so it is good for him that he does not have to travel.
‘Workers in this local area must organise a strike to defend Chase Farm.
‘Council workers, bus drivers, teachers, everyone uses the NHS so everyone must come out on strike to defend it!’
Later during the day the ex-Visteon workers came down to join the picket of Chase Farm.
Visteon was a factory in Enfield that made the car parts for Fords.
When they sacked their entire workforce with 6 minutes notice the workers decided to occupy the factory to demand their rightful redundancy money.
Ex-Visteon worker Mario Bonfante said: ‘At visteon we occupied the factory for eight weeks and we won!
‘We have to do a similar thing at Chase Farm and take the hospital over.
‘But I believe that this occupation has to come from inside the hospital.
‘The nurses, the domestics and other staff must occupy the factory or they will lose their jobs.
‘We will support their occupation!’