A SUCCESSFUL picket to stop the closure of Chase Farm Hospital took place outside the hospital in Enfield on Tuesday, attended by over 50 people.
The picket was joined by the local community, including residents who had taken part in the June 6 demonstration by the North-East London Council of Action, as well as sacked Visteon workers and railway workers.
Joshua Ogunleye, a member of the Young Socialists, told News Line: ‘I’ve joined the picket today because of the attacks that the government is making on the NHS and to see how the local people are reacting to it and help gather support to end the attacks on the public services.’
He added: ‘We can’t let Chase Farm close because it is so significant as a major District General Hospital in London. We should occupy it.’
Mrs Kelly, a local resident, said: ‘I think it is disgusting what they are doing to Chase Farm because my daughter and grandchild use it regularly.
‘Instead of the MPs having their expenses, get rid of the MPs and the Lords and put it into the NHS.
‘Let the MPs get a normal salary like anyone else.’
Tina Dhanjal, a sacked Visteon worker, said: ‘I don’t want Chase Farm Hospital to close down.
‘There are not many hospitals round here.
‘It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, you need it.
‘It is the oldest hospital round here, with the most expertise.
‘We should not chuck out what we treasure for us Enfield people.
‘From baby to old age, you never know when you need it. A wide spectrum of the population use it.
‘I’ll join the occupation if I’m needed.’
Henson Bramble, a member of the Young Socialists from Hackney, said: ‘I’m here to protest that Chase Farm should not be closed and to prevent it being privatised.
‘The local people will have to go too far, to Barnet and North Middlesex, and they could die on the way because of the delay in treatment.’
Barbara Dawson said: ‘I have worked as a carer for social services in the London Borough of Enfield for 35 years.
‘A lot of our elderly people use this hospital and it has saved lives because it is so near.’
Madge Jones said: ‘I have been a regular supporter of the Chase Farm picket.
‘I’m just hoping that Alan Johnson will no longer be health minister and that a new minister will be brought in with a different opinion.
‘I have heard that there is not enough money to make the changes that they propose here.
‘The alternative is if they close it completely, which will be a disaster because this is a huge borough.
‘I go to the health scrutineer meetings once a month and also the Cabinet meetings once a month and pick up on changes they are likely to make.’
Alan Saunders said: ‘You must have a hospital open here because if there is a serious accident the hospital is nearby.
‘Chase Farm is a very good hospital. They do a lot of caring, specialist care, heart operations, hip replacements, problems with the eyes, the kidneys and the lungs.
‘If they close it, loads of nurses and doctors will be on the dole.
‘We need a socialist system that looks after people.
‘Stop putting profits before people.
‘The NHS should be free for everyone. It is a basic human right.’
Jane Wyman said: ‘We live in Potters Bar. I have children here. It would be a shame to see it go.
‘They are putting money in everything else and not the NHS.’
Toni Tagliarini, a sacked Visteon worker, said: ‘I was on the march on June 6.
‘It was an inspiration. It was great to bring the whole community together and to let people know what is happening to the hospital, because a lot of people don’t know.
‘We must keep all the departments open and if necessary to occupy them to keep them open.’
Ivan Makuna, a domestic in Chase Farm Hospital, said: ‘Chase Farm is a lovely hospital and it should be defended.
‘Chase Farm is a big hospital and we are always busy and we are needed.
‘I’m going to ask in the office what is going on, because I don’t want it closed.
‘I agree with a sit-in to stop it closing.’
Scott Dore said: ‘I think there should be more support from the local community to save Chase Farm and all the doctors and nurses and the rest of the health workers in the hospital should get behind our campaign, because the more support the campaign, the greater the momentum we have against the closure of the hospital.’
Mrs Michelle Bailey said: ‘I think it’s ridiculous closing Chase Farm.
‘When my son was one year old, he had a really high temperature and we had to go to Chase Farm at one o’clock in the morning. It only took us ten minutes by car.
‘If they move the Accident and Emergency, where would we go?’
Judith Leyva said: ‘I used to work here.
‘If they close the hospital, it is no good for the local people.
‘I live locally and it will be sad to see it close because it is of benefit for everyone.
‘What will happen to the elderly. Where are they to go?
‘I did two years’ voluntary work in Chase Farm without pay in the elderly wards and I used to make tea and coffee for the patients and take them to the toilets and help the nurses.
‘I learnt English here. My first language is Spanish.
‘It is a lot of opportunity for people like me.’
Sue O’Keefe said: ‘It was great being on the march on June 6 and to see so many people stay for the meeting and babies and older people, who stayed to find out more on how we can stop the hospital closing.
‘It created a real sense of community spirit on the day.’
Andy Walker said: ‘I work for the local ambulance service.
‘The community needs this hospital.
‘I agree with an occupation.
‘The government want to sell the land off. It is prime land to build on.
‘They’ve already built new housing on the hospital grounds.
‘We have to do something urgently to stop Chase Farm from closing.’
Douglas Lloyds, Unison rep who works at Barnet social services, said: ‘When my dad was in Chase Farm Hospital, he was treated wonderful.
‘We have to keep hospitals in house, in the NHS, and it must be kept local.
‘You should reduce management and spend it on nurses.
‘Tony Blair’s policies haven’t worked, nor have Thatcher’s.
‘The NHS budget has all gone on the PFI.
‘We must keep this hospital open by any means necessary.’
Roy Smith campaigned with the picket, giving out leaflets.
He said: ‘I am a landscape gardener and I was on the march on June 6.
‘I thought it was an excellent turnout of all groups, which shows that the young have a keen interest in what’s going on.
‘All the shop staff came to the doors as we marched through the town and it was very noticeable what we were doing to keep the hospital open.
‘The meeting that followed was very constructive.
‘This was the first march I have been on for Chase Farm.
‘I think the government should be pegged down into reviewing the situation regarding the closure.
‘The hospital should be redeveloped in four phases.
‘They can keep some of the listed buildings and revitalise the hospital over, say, a 10-year period, rather than closing the hospital and letting people die on the road to Barnet.’
Mario Bonfante, sacked Visteon worker, said: ‘I feel very strongly about closing the hospital down, it makes me very cross and upset.
‘I’ve had four children born here and four hip replacements.
‘It is the closest thing to my home.
‘So many Chase Farm workers will lose their jobs if certain departments should close.
‘There should definitely be an occupation of the Accident and Emergency and Children’s departments, people’s lives are at risk.’
Rav Gulti said: ‘I want this hospital because it provides excellent patient care.
‘It saved my life and allowed me to recover successfully from cancer.
‘I work for Haringey PCT and we pay our taxes and the NHS is an essential service that we are being stripped of.
‘The NHS workers are suffering on miserable wages.
‘We live in a corrupt, fraudulent system. It is lining the pockets of the bourgeoisie and leaving the proletariat to suffer.’
Bill Rogers, secretary of the North-East London Council of Action, said: ‘People from the march on June 6 and Visteon workers joined the picket today, which was successful because we signed up lots of new people.
‘On July 7, at our next Council of Action meeting, we are going to show a film of the march.
‘One of my workmates from the railways joined the picket today.
‘We are adamant that after the success of the march on June 6, the vast majority of the population in Enfield supports an occupation of Chase Farm.
‘The march and this picket prove that.’