Staff, patients and visitors on Tuesday welcomed the latest monthly mass picket by about 30 youth and workers of Chase Farm Hospital, organised by the North-East London Council of Action.
Everyone said they are determined to keep this vital local district general hospital open and supported the Council of Action’s policy of occupation.
The number of youth who braved the rain to join the picket from 7am made a big difference in winning support for the fight.
Psychiatric nursing student, Rachael Bennett, told News Line: ‘Closing the A&E and Maternity here and the Paediatrics is ridiculous.
‘North Middlesex and Barnet are miles away.
‘The closure would affect our training and is dangerous in any case.
‘I had to go to my local A&E myself last week.
‘If there wasn’t a local A&E I don’t know what I would have done.
‘If anyone here needed an A&E getting to Barnet would be a risk.
‘We have to stop the closure, definitely.
‘I agree with a sit-in, if that’s what it is going to take to keep the hospital operating.
‘The unions need to be talking to their members and get involved in the struggle.’
Out-patient Paul Collins said: ‘This is my local hospital.
‘I had a letter from our MP Joan Ryan and she said they are not closing it.
‘But you can’t take the word of MPs.
‘Saving Chase Farm is important.
‘We’ve got to save it. If it closed it would put a lot of pressure on North Middlesex and Barnet hospitals.
‘I’m for an occupation to keep Chase Farm open.
‘The unions should help as well.
‘They have to defend the workers and their jobs – where would the staff go from here.’
Julie Diggett from Edmonton Young Socialists (YS), added: ‘I don’t want Chase Farm Hospital to close.
‘It’s awful that old people who live in Enfield would have to travel down to Edmonton or up to Barnet when they are ill, just to build some flats.
‘We need to protest, fight and save our hospital.
‘I’m totally for occupying and defending the hospital.’
Another out-patient, Tony said: ‘It should not be closing down, there aren’t many hospitals around.
‘Barnet and North Middlesex are a long way to go.
‘There has to be action to stop the closure.
‘We have to keep this hospital going. I agree with an occupation to keep the hospital running.
‘If they closed this one, next thing is they will want to close another.’
Mrs Salvucci said: ‘I live in Cheshunt. This is my local hospital.
‘If I needed an A&E for me and my children and this one was closed, I’d have to go Welwyn or Barnet and I don’t know where Barnet is.
‘If they closed Welwyn, I don’t know what I’d do.
‘I had my children here and every time they were ill I brought them to this A&E.
‘We have to do everything to stop the closure.’
Janay Shelemey, Edmonton YS, said: ‘We are trying to raise awareness of the privatisation of the NHS.
‘They are trying to close the A&E, Maternity and Paediatrics here.
‘Obviously, that would create potential problems for Barnet and North Middlesex being overloaded.
‘We’ve got quite a good response from people going past.
‘They all agree with what we are saying and support occupation to save the hospital.
‘The unions need to take action and raise awareness themselves.
‘I think the government have become quite pathetic and clearly don’t have our interests at heart.
‘We need a different government – kick out Brown and get a workers government.’
Patient Angela Gill said: ‘It’s obviously a very busy hospital, I don’t see how they can possibly think of closing it.
‘I support the campaign.’
Staff nurse Sue Grehan said: ‘The plans to close the A&E and Maternity are ridiculous, absurd.
‘Look at the population in this area along with all the new housing that is going up.
‘It’s obvious that we need this hospital and any closure would put pressure on Barnet and North Middlesex who are stressed already.
‘We have to do everything to stop the closure.
‘I think this campaign by the North-East London Council of Action is marvellous and I admire you all.
‘I say to your policy of occupation: do it, if that’s what it takes.
‘I would say that all the staff would back that.
‘The trade unions should get more involved.
‘They should be pro-active and back the campaign. The government doesn’t care, all they are interested in is money and the bankers.
‘We have to defeat their plans. There will have to be everybody out to defend our NHS as well as all the local residents that use the hospital.’
Dominic Reay, Newham YS said: ‘I’ve come here to picket and let people know to keep Chase Farm open.
‘We can’t let it close.
‘Everyone has a right to have their local hospital open.
‘I am very determined to keep this hospital open and I’ll do all I can do to keep it open.
‘I’ll back an occupation and the unions should support that, as well as the doctors, nurses and the people from the local area.’
Consultant surgeon Anna Athow said: ‘It’s very important to press on with the fight to keep Chase Farm Hospital open, as Healthcare for London is pressing on with the Darzi plan to close hospitals all over the capital.
‘They are making huge cuts in funding and we have to stop them decimating our service.
‘The fight that we put up here to keep this hospital open will inspire struggles all over London and the country.
‘We have to win this. I think it will need an occupation like the Visteon workers.
‘The whole NHS is under threat and it must be defended.
‘We need action by all the health unions in NHSTogether urgently.’
North-East London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers told News Line: ‘It’s a good picket today.
‘It’s very important that we keep up our fight to keep the hospital open, especially in the light of the decisions to make 20 per cent cuts in public spending.
‘The reason behind these cuts is the enormous crisis in the economy and the capitalist system.
‘It’s now being mooted that we should pay £20 to visit our GP.
‘We have to be prepared to occupy Chase Farm hospital if they proceed with the cuts.
‘I’d like to say thanks to all the youth that are attending the picket today.
‘Their enthusiasm is great and we have got a really good response. ‘People realise it is a serious fight to keep this hospital open.
‘We have a flu epidemic now and they are saying there’s a shortage of beds.
‘This is due entirely to the government’s cuts and closures over the past 10 years.
‘Trade unions have got to step into this fight to save jobs and services from destruction.’