THE North East London Council of Action is organising a march through Enfield today starting from the war memorial at 1pm to Chase Farm Hospital.
Its organiser Bill Rogers a train driver and chairman of a local Aslef branch told News Line: ‘The reason we are marching is crystal clear.
‘We are not going to allow the Brown government to destroy health care in this area by closing down Chase Farm District General Hospital.
‘We are going to do everything that is necessary to keep Chase Farm open and fully functioning, including organising an occupation of the hospital if that becomes necessary.
‘We are convinced that our march today will show that the residents of Enfield have not been taken in by all of the smokescreen of government propaganda they have been subjected to.
‘Nobody believes that a privately run polyclinic can replace a hospital that has had its heart, its 24 hour A&E Department, its Maternity Unit and its Paediatric unit ripped out.
‘Everybody knows that closure of these vital services will result in entirely avoidable deaths.
‘I drive a train. Train crews know that lack of emergency services means deaths.
‘Firefighters, bus drivers, tube workers they all know this.
‘I believe that these workers will be willing to take strike action to stop the closure of Chase Farm.
‘You talk to the families who need the A&E, the Maternity and the Paediatric services of this hospital.
‘They know that being put into an ambulance, and being taken 20 or 30 miles to the nearest proper general hospital for life saving treatment, through heavy traffic could lead to a loss of life for their loved ones.
‘Ordinary people are prepared to fight to keep this District General Hospital open.
‘They will be prepared to occupy it in support of the patients and staff, and their families if it has to be done.
‘They also know that what happens here at Chase Farm will decide what happens to DGHs throughout the London area. Darzi has made that clear.
‘This is a struggle that we have got to win.’
Anna Athow, Consultant Surgeon in North London, and a supporter of the Council of Action said: ‘Chase Farm Hospital must be kept open as a fully functioning hospital with all departments; accident and emergency, paediatrics, maternity, intensive care, emergency surgery and acute inpatient beds.
‘The two options proposed by the PCTs (Primary Care Trusts) for a polyclinic and urgent care centre, plus or minus an elective surgery centre, would mean the closure of Chase Farm as an acute district general hospital.
‘This would be a huge loss of consultant led services in the area.
‘Polyclinics are not hospitals. They provide care for walking patients and would be staffed mainly by GPs and nurses or other practitioners.
‘They would be tendered out to private providers and this is government policy.
‘The plan to close Chase Farm is the spearhead for the Darzi plan for London, which proposes to close more than half the capital’s district general hospitals and replace them with 150 polyclinics.
‘This would put healthcare corporations in the driving seat of primary care, who would use it to restrict access to hospital care.
‘We march today to keep all our DGHs open. NHS hospitals are public assets and must remain in public hands.
‘They must not be sold off to finance Private Finance Initiative consortia and private polyclinics.’