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Large numbers of North Middlesex Hospital workers supported yesterday’s mass picket to defend the NHS and said they would be attending this Saturday’s demonstration at Chase Farm
‘THE mass picket has gone very well,’ said Bill Rogers, secretary of the North East London Council of Action, outside the North Middlesex Hospital yesterday.

‘We have signed up 40 people to join the Council of Action who agree with us that strike action and occupations are necessary to stop these cuts,’ he added.

‘We got our message across with lots of placards.

‘The staff who I have spoken to have been very angry about these cutbacks.

‘They know something has to be done, yet the union leaders are going along with it.’

TGWU member and bus mechanic, Tony Baksh, said on the picket line: ‘The hospital managers are driven by money.

‘All these managers should be kicked out and the nurses should run the hospitals, they know what’s going on.

‘The managers just sit 50 feet in the air and come up with ideas to cut the staff.

‘The union leaders are the biggest culprits over what is going on, letting the bosses get away with it.

‘Slavery hasn’t been abolished, it’s coming back. They sell the workers down the drain, just like at Gate Gourmet.’

Supplies officer Obaidul Haque said: ‘It should be stopped.

‘They are telling us to cut down on orders in the stores. That’s something we can’t do.

‘The unions should take action, everybody should take action.’

Day surgery nurse Sarah Landy added: ‘It’s wrong to close beds, we don’t have enough as it is.

‘It does affect patients. We aren’t given sufficient funds, they are spending more on the private sector.’

Health support worker Joseph Edavilayt-Isaac said: ‘I’m against the sackings. I support action to stop closing wards.’

Midwife Anne Carmel said: ‘I don’t know where the money’s going.

‘We can’t wait for a disaster to happen, we have to stop the closures now.’

A nurse and UNISON member, who didn’t want to be named for fear of victimisation, said: ‘My ward is due to close on April 1. It’s really demotivating for all of us.

‘It’s a general medicines ward and it’s really needed.

‘It’s being closed for financial reasons, there’s no other reason.’

Roseta Reeves joined the picket and stayed for its duration.

She said: ‘I trained at Whipps Cross as a nurse and midwife.

‘The government is just not listening.

‘It is trying to Americanise the NHS and in fact all the services in the country.

‘We’ve already paid for the NHS.

‘I’m a taxpayer and I pay my community charge and I do not think the system should be privatised.

‘I agree with strike action. People have a right to take action if they do not have their needs met.’

Sevilay Kazim said: ‘It’s challenging times but closing beds is not the answer.

‘The answer is more staff, keeping wards open and better management.’

Midwife sonographer and RCM member, Josephine Edlington at North Middlesex, said: ‘Things are changing so fast here and the changes are impacting on the care of women on a daily basis and it’s not right.

‘The quality of care has really deteriorated since I began.

‘You hear that across the NHS and it’s with us every day.

‘We need to do something about it or there won’t be an NHS.’

Mary Callan said: ‘I have lived in Tottenham since 1969. There was never more need for a union to stand up for the rights of working-class people than now.’

Nurses from the X-ray department joined the picket at lunchtime.

Nesha and Sunneta said: ‘It is not fair. We should have less management and more money for nurses and patients.

‘At the end of the day, they are cutting back on everything.’

Trainee nurses Ama and Sandra, who joined the picket, said: ‘We do not want any beds to be closed.

‘That will reduce the quality of care for patients.

‘One nurse is doing the work of three.

‘There should be more staff and we should not be losing them.’

• Second news story


Fears over the scale of hospital closures intensified yesterday as it was revealed that deficits were seeing three out of four NHS trusts restrict patients’ access to treatment.

A survey of trust managers published in the Health Service Journal found that 73 per cent of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), which run GP clinics and health centres and hold the bulk of the NHS budget, are already restricting access to treatments.

Fifty per cent of PCTs are also delaying operations.

Meanwhile, health secretary Hewitt has been making an attempt to head off opposition to closures.

She has issued a guide to trust executives on how best to describe decisions to shut down hospitals and units, including advice on ‘effective media handling’ and instruction on the sort of language needed to disguise closure plans.

Responding to the Health Service Journal survey, seven out of ten trust chief executives said ‘patient care will suffer’ as a result of short-term financial decisions to cut deficits, while 61 per cent of acute hospital trusts said they were already closing wards.

Almost fifty per cent of all trust bosses said that they had made, or intended to make, redundancies this year.

The vast majority, 86 per cent of managers, complained that they were ‘battered and bruised’ by never-ending ‘reorganisations’.

In a covering letter to Hewitt’s guide, NHS chief executive David Nicholson warned trust bosses that ‘difficult decisions’ had to be taken and they must not ‘shy away from major service changes that address financial difficulties’.

• Chancellor Gordon Brown said yesterday that all public sector pay increases will be within his 1.9 per cent limit.


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