‘We are prepared to occupy before any closures are implemented,’ said North East London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers yesterday.
Commenting on news that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel is recommending that the A&E, Emergency Paediatric and consultant-led maternity departments at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, north London, are closed, Rogers continued: ‘we will organise a picket and a demonstration to mobilise the forces opposed to the closure’.
He said: ‘We condemn the panel’s decision to recommend the closures.
‘It is nothing more than we expected and have been preparing for over the past four years.
‘This is at the same time that the government is pushing ahead with plans to close the maternity unit at the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.
‘We will be joining their picket.
‘We appeal to trade unions, workers and youth to join our pickets and be prepared to occupy.
‘The unions must take strike action to defend occupations and the NHS as a whole.
‘The Council of Action will be joining the Young Socialists’ lobby of the TUC on Monday, 12th September to demand a general strike to bring this rotten government down.’
Save Chase Farm campaigner Kate Wilkinson told News Line: ‘I’m taking the press reports as speculation.
‘It’s not good but it doesn’t really mean anything until it’s officially confirmed.
‘We’ve got to keep fighting.
‘The decision-makers have been to the hospital both before and after the election and promised to stop the forced closures at Chase Farm.
‘We are still waiting for them to honour those promises.’
BMA Council member Anna Athow told News Line: ‘The decision to remove A&E, paediatrics and maternity from Chase Farm Hospital (CFH) means that the government wants to close CFH as an acute District General Hospital.
‘Without admissions from A&E, substantial parts of the hospital will be removed – many wards with acute inpatient beds, 24-hour operating theatres, intensive care and supporting departments.
‘The site would be reduced to elective and rehab work and tendered out to the private sector.
‘This is totally unacceptable. Barnet and North Middlesex hospitals cannot provide the rapid access and volume of beds to care for the clinical needs of the population of Enfield and Cheshunt.
‘The staff, health unions, local residents and campaign groups need to redouble their efforts to unite the local population and other unions to resist this closure.
‘The North East London Council of Action has been calling for an occupation to keep the services running and keep the hospital open with all departments. This is now on the agenda.’
Sean O’Sullivan, Head of Policy at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: ‘The RCM does not automatically have an objection to the closure of an obstetric-led service, if a midwife-led unit is put in its place.
‘However, if all maternity services were removed from Chase Farm then the RCM would have real concerns. This would leave the women of the area with a vastly reduced choice about where they give birth.’