Trade unions must take action to stop Chase Farm closing!

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The rally in the hospital grounds after the march
The rally in the hospital grounds after the march

‘SAVE Chase Farm Occupy Now! Whose hospital? Our Hospital!’

More than 200 marchers chanted this slogan as they marched to Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield yesterday evening, determined to stop the closure of the Enfield Hospital.

Enfield residents, trade unionists and Chase Farm Hospital workers were on the march, organised by the North East London Council of Action.

Kathleen a Unison member told News Line: ‘I work at Chase Farm and I want to keep my hospital open.

‘It’s a hospital and it is well used. I could understand if you went to A&E and it was empty but it’s not, it’s always full. And you get the best treatment locally.

‘I am a union member and I have been sorely disappointed. We have got to make the unions fight.

‘We have got to look back in history at what the unions were created for.’

Enfield resident and worker James Mills told News Line: ‘I was born at Chase Farm Hospital in 1983. My younger brother was born there too.

‘I know people who work there, and the thought of losing the hospital does unnerve me. It is our hospital. It is Enfield’s Hospital. It has been there for so long.

‘It gives us a sense of security.

‘It is a government decision to close it for financial reasons. It must stay open.’

Michael Potts said: ‘I used to work at Chase Farm. I was a porter there for five years. It’s like a family down there. The help in A&E is wonderful. It is so good.

‘You don’t wait too long. The nurses are so helpful and so caring. It’s wonderful. Such nice people.

‘The thought of it closing is horrible. The other hospitals aren’t coping already, so if Chase Farm closes, things will get even worse. We need to keep this hospital open.’

Paul Manel, an NUT member and teacher at Highlands School in Enfield said: ‘The closure of of Chase Farm will be absolutely awful for the community of Enfield.

‘I just don’t think it can have been thought through.

‘If it has to come to occupying, I don’t see why not. There have been lots of marches. It needs more publicity.

‘Suddenly, if Chase Farm closes, people will wake up and be really upset.

‘As for the maternity, I have got personal feelings about it. My two kids were born there and because they were twins, one of them was a bit underweight, and he went downstairs to the Special Unit, and the way they looked after them was great, first-class.

‘I would be very upset to see this hospital close.’

Rita Rosales said: ‘I am a local resident in Enfield and I absolutely believe that Chase Farm needs to be kept open. We need our local hospital.

‘I was speaking to one of my cousins who lives in the USA and she told me she has been asked to pay 48,000 dollars for appendix surgery for her daughter.

‘She hasn’t got it so she is saving up, but that is what they want to bring in in this country, and we must stop it before it is too late.

‘We must fight, we must occupy and we must mobilise our unions.

‘I want to thank everyone for their efforts. The people who have been going to the picket at Chase Farm Hospital every single day.’

The marchers were shouting: ‘Defend Our A&E! Defend our Paediatrics! Defend Our Maternity! Save Chase Farm!

‘No Cuts No Closures, Kick This Government Out!

‘Save Chase Farm, Occupy Now!

‘Whose hospital? Our hospital!

‘No Privatisation. Kick this Government Out!’

Gavin Rowlett from Enfield said: ‘Keep Chase Farm open for adults, children, disabled people and the elderly.

‘It is wrong what they are doing. Keep it open for the next generation.’

There were scores of red and yellow ‘Save Chase Farm’ banners on the march.

The march was lead by the North East Council of Action banner, which read: ‘Defend the NHS by All Means Necessary. Save Chase Farm!’

The other banner on the march was ‘Maternity Chase Farm Hospital! Jobs 4 Life Jobs 4 Lives. It’s Our Maternity Unit!

After the demonstration called by the North East London Council of Action to defend Chase Farm hospital, Council of Action secretary Bill Rogers said: ‘It is time for the trade unions to take action.’

He led the march into the area, outside the Maternity Unit which is threatened with closure within days.

He told the marchers: ‘I have got to tell you that they have got the whole hospital in lock-down.

‘This Maternity Unit is completely shut, they will not open the doors to anyone.

‘Visitors and relatives are being tuned away.’

He continued: ‘When we were organising the march we were threatened with being arrested under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

‘This government is trying to destroy the National Health Service.

‘As we are talking, we are living in a baby boom and yet they are closing down Maternity Units.

There is a massive shortage of midwives, and it was announced only yesterday by the Royal College of Nursing, that there is a 20,000 shortfall of nursing staff.

‘They are out to smash this Maternity Unit at Chase Farm and the Accident and Emergency Unit

‘So who are the criminals? …obviously the government, but the real criminals are trade union leaders who refuse to call any action to defend the NHS.

‘This week Keogh announced on behalf of the government, the bringing in of a two-tier Accident and Emergency system. They are downgrading 100 A&E Units. Ambulances are being told don’t take patients to A&E – take them anywhere but not to A&E.

‘We are taking this fight forward. We are not here to make this hospital a battlefield, although we are determined to save this hospital; but the real battlefield is in the trade unions.

‘Up at Grangemouth just two weeks ago, Len McCluskey, the leader of Unite, agreed to a three-year No Strike deal.

‘These union leaders are yellow bellied.

‘The only thing keeping this government in power is these union leaders.

‘We need the health unions to support and organise occupations.

‘The National Health Service was brought in after World War II and the working class won’t let it go.

‘We are asking the local trade unions to come and occupy.

‘They plan to come and close the Accident and Emergency on the 9th of December, and we are calling to occupy on the 8th.

‘Come to the News Line Anniversary Rally this Sunday to discuss and organise this action.

‘We are continuing our constant presence at this hospital.

‘Come and join the daily picket tomorrow,’ Rogers urged.