HUNDREDS of people took part in Tuesday’s picket by North East London Council of Action against the closure of Chase Farm Hospital A&E and other key departments.
Large numbers signed up to join the Council of Action, which is calling for an occupation to stop the closure going ahead.
Chase Farm midwife Maria Suarez said: ‘We have to keep fighting to keep the consultant-led maternity unit open as well as the A&E.
‘The big issue is the A&E . . . If they close that, it will mean the hospital will be in danger.
‘I would do anything to keep the hospital open.’
Local resident Mary Onoufriou said: ‘To travel from here to Barnet is impossible without a car.
‘I ask: how will Barnet cope anyway with all the extra workload?’
Sadie Carr, an administrator at the University of London, told News Line: ‘It’s terrible what they are doing.
‘Under privatisation people will end up paying more for what they don’t need while they are running hospitals down.
‘We have to keep the hospitals open. It’s sad to see them running down.
‘You can see bits of land being sold off already.
‘They are building housing on hospital land. That’s wrong.
‘I agree with taking action to stop the closures and will support an occupation.
‘The trade unions should take action to back the hospital workers.
‘It’s everybody’s health service and we all have to defend it.
‘I always thought it was wrong to close the mental hospitals and not support vulnerable people.’
Local building worker Kemal Hassan said: ‘All this is part of the government’s and private companies’ long-term plan to run down the hospital services so people think it is better to go private.
‘We definitely have to stop the A&E and maternity closures.
‘It’s too far to go to Barnet and North Middlesex. The traffic slows you down.
‘At peak hours, the A10 and North Circular are chock-a-block.
‘I’d back an occupation to stop the closure.
‘The law is only there to protect the rich.
‘Workers have to stand up for their rights.
‘If enough people stood their ground, they can’t do anything.
‘We should overthrow the government, if that’s what it takes.’
Janice, a scientist, said: ‘I’m very disappointed the way things have gone in the NHS – the way different departments have been closed down and the way the money has been disproportionately appropriated.
‘I’m opposed to the A&Es closing.
‘If you can’t get to an A&E that’s relatively close, your chances of surviving are going to be reduced.
‘I support an occupation if it would achieve something.
‘I think the whole structure of management has to be looked at.
‘The government has too many targets, too much talking, not enough action.’
A Chase Farm worker, Fatima Riveira, added: ‘I don’t support the closure, we need our local A&E.
‘I would support a sit-in to stop the closures.
‘The trade unions must take action because so many people are going to lose their jobs.’
Dorothy, a social worker, said: ‘I want to keep the A&E and maternity open.
‘Going to Barnet would be too far to travel, especially in emergency cases.’
Chase Farm out-patient, Maria Apostolou, said: ‘The plan to close A&E and maternity is no good. We have to stop it.
‘I will back an occupation.’
Local fruiterer and green grocer, John Smith, said: ‘I think it’s absolutely disgusting that they are going to shut the A&E and maternity here.
‘Where are people going to go?
‘They can’t go all the way to Barnet.
‘This hospital has been here for years.
‘Now they want to shut it and build more houses – that’s disgusting.
‘There has to be action to stop the closures.
‘I support occupying to stop the closures.
‘We need to get the unions involved. They have to sort this out, people’s lives are in danger.’
Eleni Liasedis said: ‘They should leave the hospital open – all of it as it is.
‘It is all needed. I would support an occupation, definitely.’
IT worker Frank Roach said: ‘I’m not happy with the plan to close the casualty.
‘It would mean going to North Middlesex or Barnet, which is at least 20 minutes extra.
‘It will cause extra problems.
‘Closing the A&E would be the beginning of closing the hospital.
‘They are selling-off land to build houses.’
Madge Jones, from the Enfield Pensioners Action Group, joined the picket.
She said: ‘We have to stop the closures and stop the PCT misleading people.
‘We want Option 5, which is to keep Chase Farm as a district general hospital with all its services.
‘The PCT is saying there are just two options, but when it boils down to it there is only one option which they want. This is to close the A&E, maternity and children’s services.
‘They are claiming the A&E and maternity are old buildings.
‘But the A&E, maternity and children’s departments were built in the last 35 years.
‘I’ve witnessed these buildings being built, they are better than many other hospital buildings.
‘We’re determined to keep Chase Farm and all our services open.
‘I support an occupation to stop the closures and the unions must do what it right to save the hospital.
‘I’ve heard that in Scotland they’ve had to have a reprieve for two hospitals because of the extra distance and the threat to people’s lives and by public demand.’
Pregnant patient, Maame Yaa, stopped at the picket line.
She said: ‘I want the maternity to stay.
‘I support an occupation to stop it being closed and taken away from us.’
Deborah Smyth, a member of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, said: ‘I support any action to defend the NHS.
‘I support occupying to stop the A&E and maternity closures.
‘The trade unions must take action.’
North Middlesex social worker, Rosetta Reeves, said: ‘They shouldn’t be trying to close the hospital.
‘They should be spending money to improve the services, not cut them.
‘We’re determined to fight to stop the closure and stop the inconvenience to local people who use the services.
‘We’ll do everything necessary to stop the closure.’