‘It is a beautiful day on the picket line and we have a really energetic group of Young Socialists members who have come to support us,’ Bill Rogers, secretary of the North-East London Council of Action, said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at the monthly North-East London Council of Action picket of Chase Farm Hospital where support for occupation was rock solid.
The picket was joined by over 50 people throughout the day.
Charlotte Chambers, from Hackney Young Socialists, said: ‘I got up at 5.30 to be here today to join the picket to save Chase Farm Hospital.
‘As the next generation I feel it is vital we defend our NHS and our future jobs.’
Rogers added: ‘Everyone I’ve spoken to so far is really peeved off with this witch-hunt against the NHS over in the US by the Republicans.
‘People are determined to fight against the privatisation of the health service in this country and they will answer these American slanders and the cuts in the services from this government with the occupation of Chase Farm Hospital to defend its services.
‘We’re going to enjoy the summer sunshine with a nice barbecue and soup to keep our energy levels high.
‘Cars are honking their horns and lorries are blasting their two-tone hooters in support.’
Ann Brennan, who works at Chase Farm, supported the picket.
She said: ‘I work at Chase Farm as an audio typist in the cardiology department.
‘If they shut the A&E at Chase Farm, our cardiology department will be extremely threatened.
‘If someone had a heart attack they would have to be referred to Barnet or North Middlesex.
‘It is highly possible that they would be dead on arrival.
‘I’ve always said that saving Chase Farm is a life and death question!’
Peter Warwick, a patient, said: ‘I think it is ludicrous how they can close something that is very much needed.
‘And for, particularly, the elderly, it would force them to go to somewhere like Barnet.
‘My friend broke her foot and she couldn’t get an ambulance and was forced to get a taxi that she couldn’t afford.
‘Infirm patients who are immobile will be prevented from going to hospital.
‘People now can’t go to the dentist because of the expense and the same will apply to hospitals if they are too far away.’
Mrs Mojisola Adomajale said: ‘I am a nurse at UCLH and the workload there is disgraceful.
‘It is too much and we are underpaid and overworked.
‘There is no quality of care because you are looking after ten people and that’s why the sickness rate amongst staff is so high.
‘Nurses are stressed out, overworked.
‘My colleagues are having palpitations because of the overwork.
‘Most of them are having high blood pressure and they are having to take time off work.
‘They are trying to pay off the PFI mortgage on the UCLH building and so they are cutting back on staff.’
Talking about the threat to close Chase Farm, she said: ‘I would support an occupation.
‘We have nowhere else to go. This is our local hospital.
‘I had my baby here. Every local community should have their own hospital.
‘My husband was a postman in the sorting office and he was made redundant two months ago and he can’t find work.’
Lots of Young Socialists members joined the picket.
Julian Gordon, a member of the Newham Young Socialists, told News Line: ‘We have been stopping cars and giving out leaflets to encourage people to come to our meeting and to discuss a plan of action to keep the hospital open.
‘The reason why the Young Socialists have joined the picket is it is very important to us and many young people need to use a hospital and it is the nearest one they can get to.
‘We are a lively bunch of youth, so lots of people are encouraged to join us in our campaign for people’s rights in this country.’
Lucia Craig, a patient, said: ‘We need a hospital in Enfield.
‘The nearest are North Middlesex and Barnet, which are too far away, especially for the elderly.’
Mrs Perry, another patient, said: ‘I have come over here on several occasions and Chase Farm Hospital has been very helpful.
‘I have to come here for an operation next week and I don’t know what I would do if I had to go any further.
‘They have always done well for me and my family. I don’t even know how to get to Barnet.
‘I’m from Cheshunt. People from Cheshunt stand no chance, even Chase Farm is a half-hour drive for us.
‘All they have is a cottage hospital in Cheshunt.
‘I don’t want to travel any further.’
Diana Antwi, a nurse at Chase Farm and RCN member, said: ‘It’s a really bad idea to discontinue the A&E and Maternity at Chase Farm.
‘This is going to be a huge burden on Barnet and North Middlesex hospitals.
‘Originally, they have their own load case and if they’re going to refer patients that would have gone to Chase to Barnet and North Mid, how are they going to cope with the extra patients.
‘And the patients will not get good quality care.
‘If at the point of closure the local people and doctors and nurses think that they can cope with going into the hospital and keeping it running themselves, then that would be a good idea and I wouldn’t mind joining in and helping in any way I can.’
Sheila Nellis, a local resident and part of the North-East London Council of Action, joined the picket.
She said: ‘I use Chase Farm Hospital myself and I’m also a reflexologist and I visit patients in Chase Farm.
‘I must say that they do a really good job at Chase Farm.
‘It’s quite obvious that they intend to close Chase Farm Hospital as they have done no renovation and all the paint is peeling, and from the outside, parts of the hospital look derelict.
‘It’s a clear indication that it’s not just three departments they intend to close, but the whole hospital.
‘For years money has been allocated to rebuild Chase Farm and it has never happened, so where has the money gone?
‘Where has the money gone from the closure of the Highlands Hospital or St Michael’s Hospital, that they also closed.
‘Those two hospitals have now been built on, so where’s the revenue from those sales?
‘I have been on all the marches, signed the petitions, I have even canvassed the houses and got almost 400 signatures myself.
‘If necessary, we have to take action above and beyond protests.
‘I would support an occupation.
‘If Chase Farm closes, it would be a tragedy and it would cost lives and that is it in a nutshell.’