Staff, patients and visitors are determined to keep Chase Farm Hospital open.
They welcomed the latest over twenty-strong monthly picket of the Enfield hospital site by the North East London Council of Action.
Passing cars, buses and lorries hooted their horns in support throughout the 7am until 2pm picket,which was joined by two ex-Visteon workers who had occupied the nearby car-parts factory last year.
Local youth Mustafa Ali told News Line: ‘There should be more doctors and nurses to look after patients.
‘This is a good hospital.
‘I brought my cousin here because he got hit in the face.
‘And the hospital is operating on him now.
‘We need the A&E and maternity.
‘It’s right to fight to keep the hospital open.
‘I agree with occupying, you have to hold on to these things.’
Local resident Nevil Craig added: ‘My wife is an outpatient at Chase Farm.
‘The closure plans are ridiculous.
‘Where are people going to go?
‘Barnet and North Middlesex hospitals are far too far to go.
‘Now they are talking about downgrading Barnet, there will be less resources available to people.
‘People would have to wait longer for treatment and some people could die.
‘You’d just lose confidence in the health system.
‘We should definitely fight the closure.
‘Our two kids were born here, you need a hospital nearby.
‘I agree with occupying to stop the closure and to keep Chase Farm running as a fully functioning hospital.
‘The unions should take action and get more involved.’
Unemployed worker Andrew Keightley told News Line: ‘I’ve come from Luton to defend the NHS.
‘Because one hospital depends on another, because specialists are not available in every hospital and patients are sent to London for treatment, which is not available in Luton.
‘If Chase Farm closes, the queues for treatment will become longer.
‘People will have to travel for treatment and that costs more.
‘The ordinary patient will have to foot the bill for the extra travel.
‘With the A&E closing, patients would be put at risk.
‘Occupying to stop the closure is a good idea.’
Local resident Roy Smith said: ‘The main reason for keeping the hospital open is there has been a huge increase in the population of Enfield over the last several years.
‘We all get different things wrong with us, regardless of how well we might keep ourselves.
‘And if different departments are closed, it’s a certainty that many more people will die that could have been saved.
‘To make the public go to alternative hospitals, such as Barnet or North Middlesex, or even further afield, the traffic on the roads will mean that many people won’t make that hospital.
‘That is total neglect from the government.
‘This is why we have to continue to battle against any such closures.
‘We need a change of government, one that will see reason to these serious requests from the public.
‘It affects everyone of us and we will occupy to stop closures.’
Ex-Visteon workers Linda Bartle and Domenica Genuardi joined the picket.
Linda Bartle told News Line: ‘This is my local hospital.
‘I’ve been here a few times.
‘If this hospital closes, I don’t know where I’ll end up.
‘I’ve just been sent to London for a test, instead of here or Barnet.
‘People shouldn’t have to be sent miles.
‘It’s not so bad if you’re able-bodied – what happens to people who aren’t?
‘All this travel costs money.
‘They should be spending money upgrading hospitals, not getting shot of them.
‘We can’t afford to go private – we’re the working class not the rich.
‘It will be a good idea to occupy the hospital against closure.
‘It will get media attention and make people aware of what the government is doing.
‘Occupation helped our dispute.
‘I do believe the Unite leaders are in with the government.
‘They only help you when they know you are going to win.’
Domenica Genuardi added: ‘I came here to support the picket.
‘I don’t want the hospital to close down.
‘I live in Enfield Town and it’s the only hospital near to me.
‘We have to keep it open.
‘People will suffer if it closes.
‘Not everybody can travel as far as London.
‘If people have to go to Barnet after an accident, it is more of a risk.
‘It’s right to occupy to stop the closure, with a lot of people supporting it.
‘We occupied at Visteon and we won.’
Pathology department secretary Cheryl Ishmail said: ‘It’s wrong what they are planning for the elderly people of this community.
‘It’s right to fight the closure.
‘I agree with your policy of occupying and working with staff to keep the hospital open.’
North-East London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers concluded: ‘We had a good picket.
‘But they are definitely moving closer and closer to closure.
‘We’ve had new people on the picket line. Cars and trucks have been tooting their horns, and one person came from as far afield as Luton.
‘People are joining the campaign. They are angry at what is going on. They do not want to see the hospital close.
‘Closing the A&E will have a knock-on effect on other departments. We are absolutely correct in maintaining our stand at Chase Farm.
‘We are prepared to occupy when they close any of these departments down. We call on the trade unions to back us. Trade unions have to make a stand and defend the NHS.
‘What NHS London are doing will mean the end of the NHS in London.’