‘THE Charlie Chaplin Children’s Ward must not close!’ Jaswinder Pannu exclaimed yesterday morning.
She spoke to News Line during the 50-strong mass picket of Ealing Hospital, where residents, local workers and supporters shouted: ‘Hands off Charlie Chaplin Ward! Save Ealing Hospital!’ to the rhythm of a traditional Indian Dhol drum.
Charlie Chaplin was on the picket performing magic tricks to the delight of passing motorists. Jaswinder Pannu continued: ‘What about the sick children, where are they going to go? ‘We need this hospital, especially for the children and small babies.’
Equity member, David Girt, who came down to the picket as Charlie Chaplin said: ‘It is important that everyone gets the health care treatment they need. Children are our future and they are also our present. Charlie Chaplin always said that it was important to help each other and he would be very sad to hear that something that was named after him is closing down. Love and laughter are a great force for good.’
Grace, a nurse in the RCN working at Ealing Hospital, stopped to support the picket. She said: ‘To close our Children’s Department is unfair. If they do that then very sick children will have to travel far to get to the next hospital. If a child contracts meningitis, if they are not seen immediately and treated quickly then they have very little chance of survival. We all saw what happened in the news recently concerning that poor little girl, who contracted meningitis and who sadly passed away.’
The West London Council of Action organise a daily picket of Ealing hospital from 7am until 9am every single day to stop the closure of the children’s ward which is due to be axed in June. The council of action is also fighting to stop the closure of the A&E Department and for the Maternity Department to be immediately re-opened.
Arfan Sindhu, a Heathrow Airport worker in the Unite trade union, said: ‘The threat of closure of the A&E and Children’s Department is a wrong move. We have seen what has happened now that they have closed down the Maternity Department. This is the closest hospital for us to where we live.
‘The unions must take action. If we work together with the public it will make it easier for us to win. We need strike action at the airport to stop the closures at Ealing Hospital.’
‘KEEP the Children’s ward open! Keep the A&E open! Re-open Maternity,’ Mrs Bindo Rana said on yesterday’s mass picket of Ealing Hospital. She added: ‘To go to Northwick Park Hospital or Hillingdon Hospital takes two or three buses. Ealing Hospital is my hospital… it must stay open.’
Sumi Wilson, who works part-time as an interpreter at Ealing Hospital said: ‘My son was born at this hospital. Lots of people in the community are as angry as me about the closures. We will make a strategy to build up this picket and I will help get more people to come.’ Pickets kept up the chants of ‘Victory to the junior doctors!’ and ‘No privatisation! Call a general strike!’
Junior doctor Manmeet Matharoo, who works as a registrar in the Gastroenterology Department at Ealing said: ‘There has to be local services for local people. Ealing is a great community and we want to provide the best service for our patients. The escalation of the junior doctors strike is completely necessary.
‘We have to strike against the government’s imposed contract because it is unsafe for our patients. The safety of our patients is something ingrained in our soul. We will not allow the care of our patients to be compromised!’
Melissa Matthias, who works for the Mental Health Trust in Hammersmith said: Hammersmith A&E has been shut, so has the A&E at Central Middlesex, now they want to close the A&E at Ealing Hospital. This is appalling. If Cameron is not stopped we will lose the NHS. The NHS will be cut to shreds, privatised and the greatest institution that Britain has ever had will go. People will die before they can get help. We have to make a stand!’