A LIVELY picket of both gates at Chase Farm Hospital took place on Tuesday, March 29.
Beverley Stevens, a Unison support worker in Enfield Authority said: ‘I don’t agree with the closure of Chase Farm Hospital, the community needs emergency treatment, there’s too much traffic and it’s too far for us to get to Barnet.
‘This is Enfield, why should we go to Barnet?
‘I don’t agree with the government changes. Everyone’s living off the workers’ backs and if we didn’t work the bankers wouldn’t get their bonuses.
‘I would support an occupation to defend Chase Farm.
‘I was on the TUC march last Saturday. The unions are not doing enough to save our services.’
Raymond Barnes from Cheshunt, said: ‘We have a local campaign in Cheshunt to keep Chase Farm open. We use the local urgent treatment centre in Cheshunt, and it is under threat of closure too.’
His wife, Linda Barnes said: ‘I used it two weeks ago, Saturday when I fell in the garden and had stitches on the nose. There are plans to downgrade the urgent treatment centre in Cheshunt, so they will only keep a nurse there and cut out the doctor, so it will be of hardly any use.
‘If they close Chase Farm A&E it will be worse.’
Raymond added: ‘So if they close Chase Farm and our local urgent treatment centre, we will have nothing at all.’
Joan Brown said: ‘I want to keep Chase Farm Hospital open because it is in the right place and has good access points and good esprit de corps. The staff are very helpful and kind.’
Her friend Audrey Rawlings said: ‘If they close Chase Farm it is very difficult to get to Barnet and even if you take a car, there are few parking spaces because the car park is too full.’
Joan added: ‘The shuttle bus service to Barnet from Chase Farm is very difficult to find, the bus stop’s pointing in the wrong direction and I have never actually seen it.
‘We don’t know who to vote for next time, because all the politicians say they want to keep the NHS, but as soon as they’re elected they break their promises.’
Elderly resident, Lesley Perkins, said: ‘This is my second visit to Chase Farm today and I have a third visit this afternoon, I am 80-years-old. Can you imagine if I had to go to Barnet if they close Chase Farm! It is not on.’
Nitsha Audridge said: ‘I’ve been coming to Chase Farm for 20 years. I am very happy with Dr Vansamaranth and his crew.
‘They treat me very well and I have been very ill, but I am better now thanks to Chase Farm.
‘I think it should be occupied. My whole family use the hospital, so we need it.
‘I wish with all my heart they keep the hospital open, because there is no hospital nearby. For everybody’s sake it must be kept open by all means necessary.
‘To keep it open will please so many people.’
Stiliani Adamou joined the picket and gave out leaflets to passers by. ‘I got two buses to join the picket line today. And I have a bad leg.
‘I also went to the meeting last night to save Chase Farm. We need the hospital as there are not many hospitals around here.
‘Two years ago I was six hours in the A&E because Barnet was closed. There are not enough hospitals and NHS staff already.
‘How can they get rid of them? We need more hospitals, doctors and nurses. Enfield is growing. The population has tripled in the past 25 years.
‘I support an occupation of Chase Farm.’
Eric Lief said: ‘There were half a million people marching on Saturday to save NHS jobs and hospitals, but the government is so arrogant they will ignore them.
‘This government is trying to destroy the Welfare State and to bring in American style healthcare, where people have to pay.
‘Ambulances in New York won’t pick people up off the streets if they haven’t got healthcare insurance.
‘And when Americans’ healthcare insurance runs out, for instance because of long-term illness, patients in US hospitals are kicked out.
‘Working people after the second world war got free healthcare in Britain through the NHS.
‘We are here on this picket to protect people, the majority of the population who can’t afford private healthcare insurance.’
Local resident Beatrice Akigwe said: ‘This hospital is very important. There is no way they can close the A&E and Maternity.
‘I live down the road and all the time you can hear the ambulances with their sirens.
‘We have to keep it open. I support having a sit-in to prevent the closure.
‘We won’t let them close the maternity. My grandson was born here. People shouldn’t have to travel to Barnet. There’s no straight bus there. It would be dangerous to have to go that far.’
Outpatient Tish McCabe added: ‘I want to know why they want to close this lovely hospital down.
‘All my family live in Enfield, we rely on this hospital.
‘I had my daughter here in the maternity and they were wonderful.
‘It’s a fantastic place. This is my lifeline, this hospital. And they’re closing the urgent care centres, now.
‘I live in Cheshunt now. If I had to go to Barnet in an emergency, I’d be dead before I got there.
‘We have to stop the closure. I’d be ready to occupy to stop them.’
Pharmacist Jennifer Caverly said: ‘Closing the A&E would be too silly, it’s so busy here.
‘It would have a bad effect on patient care. I don’t think Barnet or North Middlesex would be able to cope with all the extra patients.
‘A sit-in to stop the closure is a good idea.’
North-East London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers told News Line: ‘We went on the TUC march on Saturday and it was massive.
‘But there was no real leadership from the unions to fight the savage cuts in all public services.
‘What is required is a general strike to bring this government down and occupations against closures.
‘They are using this hospital as a test case to push through all the cuts and closures in the NHS.
‘We are defending Chase Farm as a fully-funded District General Hospital with all its departments running normally.
‘We don’t want to see any job losses or more ward closures.
‘We want people to come to our meeting on April 5 at St Michael’s Church Hall to plan our next action.
‘We have to be prepared to occupy the moment they name a date for any closure.’