Defend Our Hospitals!

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SARAH and BEN NORRIS with their triplets EVE, LOLA and DYLAN took part In the march to defend Lewisham Hospital on November 26
SARAH and BEN NORRIS with their triplets EVE, LOLA and DYLAN took part In the march to defend Lewisham Hospital on November 26

OVER 400 people lobbied Lewisham hospital on Thursday evening in response to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s announcement that the hospital’s A&E is to be ‘downgraded’, not closed, while the Maternity Department will be closed.

Angry local residents spoke to News Line. ‘I think that it is very devious of this government to try and hide their intention by talking about “downgrading” for “clinical benefit”,’ said Robert Ferguson.

‘It’s a smokescreen for closure, a way of pretending they were listening to the 25,000-strong march last Saturday.

‘No medical professionals have backed these “clinically beneficial” cuts; the midwives association has come out fully against the attack on the maternity department, and Dr Louise Irvine, one of the key figures in the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, has called it a “huge clinical risk”.

‘We need to keep up this fight and not lose any momentum from the power of the march. Occupation is something well worth looking into as the government has completely ignored our peaceful protest.

‘Yes, if protest is having no effect it must be direct action and occupation we need.’

‘Downgrading or reducing, or whatever Hunt wants to call it, is a build-up to full closure’, said Dominic Pentinis.

‘None of us are fooled, Hunt and his cronies see the NHS as nothing more than a valuable commodity.

‘Getting rid of maternity wards will create chaos – what is a woman giving birth going to do, travel all the way to Woolwich?

‘It will be like being thrown back into the 14th century with women dying in labour because there is no one to see to them.’

Michael Thorpe said: ‘Downgrading is another word for closure, my mum has angina and lives just around the corner from Lewisham Hospital.

‘You close down this hospital and she could die if she has a heart attack trying to get to Woolwich, Queen Mary’s, King’s College or Sidcup.’

A number of speakers addressed the gathered lobby from the steps of Lewisham hospital main entrance.

Dr Louise Irvine, GP and 38 Degrees campaign member said: ‘We have to make sure these proposals are stopped.’

Retired teacher and Lewisham Pensioners Forum member Gweyn Jones said: ‘Occupation is the way!’ This prompted spontaneous chants of ‘Occupy now! Occupy now!’

Joshua Ogunleye from the Young Socialists spoke saying: ‘The NHS must be defended.

‘Occupation is ultimately the only way to keep a hospital open, as long as there is one patient in a hospital, care must be provided and staff’s wages must be paid.

‘Everyone here should join the South East London Council of Action’s picket here on Wednesday and join the North East London Council of Action’s march on Saturday in Enfield to keep Chase Farm open.’