The North East London Council of Action held another successful picket of the Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield on Tuesday, with passing cars tooting their horns as members and supporters set up their flags and banners at 7am.
News Line spoke to staff, patients and local residents, who all supported an occupation to stop the planned closure of the hospital’s A&E, maternity and Paediatrics departments.
Healthcare assistant, Sunil Seetul, said: ‘It’s a bad thing to close the hospital.
‘The population is increasing. We need more hospitals, more services.
‘We can’t keep on closing hospitals and services.
‘People will have to travel to Barnet, it’s a long distance.
‘We should occupy the hospital, not let them close it.’
An out-patient from Edmonton, Ahmet Demirci, added: ‘What they are planning is no good.
‘There should be an emergency unit at the hospital.
‘If you close this one, other hospitals will not be able to cope.
‘People living here having to go to Barnet and North Middlesex in an emergency could threaten lives.
‘We have to stop them closing these hospitals.
‘We should do everything to stop them including occupying the hospital.
‘The unions should strike to defend the occupation.
‘The government shouldn’t close down the NHS.’
A local resident, David Hudson, was very angry.
He said: ‘We are disturbed that they plan to take away the A&E.
‘It takes a good half-hour to get to Barnet from here in a car. Public transport takes forever.
‘A blue light ambulance might make it in 15 minutes, but lives will still be at risk.
‘Who will take responsibility if someone dies if they have to go to Barnet from here?
‘We have to stop any closure.
‘It’s obscene to even consider closing the A&E.
‘I’d be prepared to occupy the hospital and stop them.
‘They seem to take no notice of us any more.’
Patricia, a nurse at Whittington Hospital in Highgate, who was visiting the hospital, said: ‘There are thousands of new people living in the area.
‘They need a health service that they can access quickly and easily. Time and distance do matter.’
She said Barnet and Hertfordshire were two big areas and added: ‘You can’t send all these people here, there and everywhere. We have to keep Chase Farm open.’
Local resident Louise Turner said: ‘It’s disgusting what they want to do.
‘If they shut this hospital down the other hospitals will be overcrowded, especially in the A&Es.
‘For the maternity, Barnet is not that big and there won’t be enough beds at North Middlesex.
‘If you go there and they turn you away, where are you going to go, where are you going to have your baby?
‘And if they take away the consultant, and a woman has a problem, the baby and herself will be at risk.
‘A birthing centre couldn’t cope.
‘If you have a problem you need specialist care and quickly.
‘The plans are crazy and dangerous.
‘We have to stop them and keep the A&E and maternity open – keep the whole hospital open.
‘I’d support an occupation.’
Chase Farm out patient Paul Antonio added: ‘It’s disgusting to close an A&E.
‘Where are people supposed to go? Barnet’s a long way.
‘They don’t care. We would be worse off.
‘We should fight the closure. I’ll support an occupation.
‘We have to keep this hospital open, it’s the only hospital near Enfield and Southgate.’
Local resident Richard Wilson stressed: ‘We need this hospital.
‘I’ve used it in the past and family members have used it.
‘If anything happens, it’s the first port of call.
‘It’s part of our community.
‘I don’t see how what they are planning serves the community.
‘It will lead to a poorer service.
‘We have to do everything we can to stop them and keep the hospital open.
‘I support an occupation.
‘The trade unions should definitely support an occupation and take strike action if necessary.’
Chris Lambou from Cheshunt told News Line: ‘I gave birth to my children here.
‘I can’t understand why they want to close the A&E and Maternity down.
‘I can’t understand why they want to close down a good thing.
‘We’re paying £4 a day for parking, what more does the government want from us to keep this hospital open?
‘We’re doing our bit, they’ve got to do their bit.
‘If they won’t, we should stop the closure.
‘I’d support a peaceful occupation.’
Out patient Anne Martin added: ‘The professionalism of the clinic at Chase farm run by orthopaedic specialist Mr Bull is excellent.
‘I was made to feel that just by seeing the registrar that he could most certainly give me treatment for my back condition.
‘I don’t like what they are planning at all.
‘They should keep Chase Farm open as it is for the people.
‘There will be deaths if they close these departments because patients would have a lot further to go.
‘The hospital should remain open, it’s part of our heritage for many years.
‘We have to do everything to keep it open. I agree with an occupation.’
Another out patient, Jenny Butler said: ‘We need a local hospital.
‘I come here every now and again, as do my family and friends.
‘We all feel quite strongly that Chase Farm should stay open.
‘I am determined to keep it open and will be there at your rally.
‘I’ll do whatever I can, I agree with an occupying the hospital and getting the unions to be ready to strike to defend an occupation.’
Hospital visitor Sophie Cook said: ‘It’s rid
iculous. They threatened to close Whipps Cross, if they close this one, where are people going to go?
‘It’s going to cost lives.
‘They saved my mum’s life here and my son’s a couple of years ago.
‘The hospital serves a huge area.
‘There aren’t enough hospitals as it is.
‘If Chase Farm closes, people will die, it’s that simple.
‘I’m for an occupation, we have to defeat their plans.
‘The most important thing is if people need to get to hospital in an emergency, they need to go to the nearest one.’