‘We will occupy to keep Chase Farm open!’ – says Council of Action picket

Chase Farm picket ‘Father Christmas’  brought good wishes to maternity department staff
Chase Farm picket ‘Father Christmas’ brought good wishes to maternity department staff

Passing cars tooted their horns at the 20-strong, 21st monthly mass picket of Chase Farm Hospital on Tuesday.

And hospital workers, outpatients and local residents all supported occupying the hospital to keep it open as a fully-functioning District General Hospital.

The pickets have been organised by the North East London Council of Action to stop the planned closure of the hospital’s A&E, consultant-led maternity and Paediatric departments ‘by all means necessary’.

This means an occupation backed by strike action if necessary.

One of the pickets, Kieran McCormack, Walthamstow YS, said: ‘I’m here to help stop the hospital shutting down.

‘It seem funny to want to close the A&E and maternity.

‘The government is trying to shut everything, businesses, hospitals, young people’s facilities.

‘We have to stop them doing it.

‘I’m ready to join a sit-in to stop the closure. Everyone should do that.

‘The unions should strike against cuts and closures.

‘We should kick this government out.’

Daniel Nutt, also from Walthamstow YS, added: ‘The picket, trying to stop the closures, is a good thing.

‘People need a local hospital with all the facilities.

‘The government should spend more money on hospitals, not privatise and close them.

‘I’m 100 per cent behind occupying this hospital to stop the closures.

‘The unions should back us, go on strike, do anything that it takes to keep the hospital open.’

Staff Nurse Maxine Williams said: ‘We should take action to stop any closure.

‘We’re understaffed as it is and I do not agree with the cuts.’

Another nurse, Jane Olu, added: ‘We should fight the closures. This hospital is needed for the community around here.

‘Travelling to North Middlesex or Barnet is no good. It’s too far away. People will die if they have to do that.

‘I agree with occupying the hospital to keep it open. Health workers will lose their jobs if it closes.’

Student Nurse Marcia Green added: ‘There are not enough hospitals in London anyway.

‘They should not demolish health care they should improve it.

‘I agree with occupying to stop the closure. I’m for that.’

Local resident Mrs Howard said: ‘Chase Farm should be kept open no matter what.

‘I’ve been here several times and I’ve never had a problem being in hospital here

‘If people had to go further away I’m sure they would not make it. There would be deaths.

‘It’s such a long way to Barnet. I hope they keep this hospital open.’

Outpatient Judith Brink said: ‘The closure plan is a mistake. We need local hospitals and where I live, to go all the way to Barnet is too far.

‘We have to keep this hospital open.

‘Our population has grown so much, if they start closing hospitals how is that going to work?

‘I would support an occupation to keep it open and working.’

Council worker Perry Driver stopped by the picket.

He said: ‘My wife Kim had a baby here five weeks ago and was treated excellently by all members of staff, doctors and nurses, nothing was too much trouble.

‘It’s disgusting that they plan to close the maternity and A&E.

‘It’s got to stay open, it would put too much pressure on the other hospitals.

‘I’ll support an occupation to stop the closure.

‘The trade unions should take action, someone is going to have to do something.

‘This government is no good. I agree we need a workers government.’

James Burton, an interpreter for deaf people, told News Line: ‘It’s awful that a hospital has to be closed down for whatever reason.

‘People need to have accessible healthcare.

‘We have to keep these hospitals open, definitely.

‘Occupying to stop the closure is a good idea.

‘The trade unions should take action to back an occupation.’

Out-patient Guzar Lalti said: ‘It’s terrible. I’ve been coming here with my daughter who has asthma.

‘The service is really good, they give good care.

‘We have to fight the closure, don’t give up.

‘It would have such a big impact on the community.

‘I agree with sitting in to stop any closure. We should chain ourselves to the place.

‘The closure plan is just about money. They don’t care about lives or people’s feelings.

‘If you are working class, you can’t go private and hospital workers would lose their jobs.’

Another out-patient, Mrs Maria Taylor added: ‘I had breast cancer 13 years ago and I’ve been coming here from Dartford all these years.

‘I hope this hospital stays open because I don’t want to go to another place.

‘They’ve been absolutely fantastic here.’

Out-patient Claire Thomas said: ‘Obviously, hospitals are needed.

‘This is the closest one in the area – the others are so far away.

‘This hospital does a good job, we can’t let them close it.

‘The more of us that come together to go against it, the more likely the closure is to be overturned.

‘If the government won’t listen, we’ll have to occupy and keep the hospital running.

‘We won’t let the government get away with it.

‘The unions should go on strike. Workers will lose their jobs otherwise.

‘I don’t know what the government expects us to do. If you can’t afford to pay for it, how are you going to get treatment?’

Expectant mother Eminie Ali added: ‘This is a valuable service for the whole community.

‘I’m opposed to the closure plan. we have to keep Chase Farm open.’

A&E receptionist Katie Cooper said: ‘It’s terrible. There are about twenty of us, all our jobs are on the line.

‘And 9 to 5 is not a proper A&E, people need care 24/7.

‘Going to Barnet is a long way. If someone is having a heart attack it could mean them dying.

‘We have to keep Chase Farm open. I’ll support an occupation to keep the hospital open and working.

‘I’m sure a lot of nurses would support that, too.’

Council of Action member Barbara Hutchings said: ‘I don’t think they are going to change their minds.

‘It’s all been decided by Lord Darzi, despite all of the people of Enfield disagreeing.

‘It’s all about money, about privatisation.

‘But we have decided to stop the closure by occupying the hospital with the support of workers.’

Fellow council of action member Sheila Nellis added: ‘It’s disgraceful what is planned.

‘I keep asking where has all the money gone.

‘Highlands Hospital was sold. St Michael’s Hospital was sold and a small cottage hospital in Chaseside was closed years ago.

‘We’re determined to keep Chase Farm open, the closure would cost lives.

‘Think how near we are to the M25, there are accidents there every day. They’d all have to be diverted to Barnet.

‘We will occupy to stop the closure – whatever it takes.’

North East London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers concluded: ‘We’ve had a really good Xmas picket today.

‘It marks our 21st picket at Chase Farm.

‘I believe Enfield Council’s application for a judicial review of the closure decision has been granted, so the review is going ahead.

‘Nevertheless, we have no confidence that the courts will defend the NHS.

‘We are confident the working class will rise up to defend Chase Farm Hospital with an occupation.’