OVER 150 people lobbied the Houses of Parliament yesterday in an angry demonstration against clause 119, which if passed gives Tory Health Secretary Hunt sweeping powers to shut down any hospital he chooses.
The demonstrators handed in a petition to 10 Downing street while Clause 118/9 of the Health and Social Care Bill was being debated in the House of Commons.
June Haughtot from Keep Our NHS Public said: ‘St Helier Hospital in south west London is going through the same thing that Lewisham did.
‘At the moment there are eleven different groups campaigning separately over St Helier. We have managed to get them together but we have been far too polite.
‘Demonstrations like this are good, but direct action is needed.
‘They do not understand or care about the NHS.
‘We have to have a more physical fight and physically take over hospitals.
‘That is the way we are going to win.’
At the lobby, Janet Scott-Phillips of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign told News Line: ‘We’ve been campaigning for 18 months now.
‘We stopped the government from closing Lewisham and we are fighting to stop Jeremy Hunt from closing down any hospitals.’
Louise Irvine from Save Lewisham Hospital said: ‘Handing in our petition to 10 Downing Street is not in itself earth shattering, but it is part of a much bigger campaign to stop the closure of hospitals.
‘We have people here representing campaigns from hospitals all over London and all over the country.
‘There is a massive movement against this governments cuts.
‘The aim of Clause 118/9 is to rapidly close down hospitals. It will require no vote or agreement, nobody will have the right to challenge a closure.
‘A faceless bureaucrat can unilaterally make the decision. Some hospitals are being deliberately underfunded. About a third of hospitals in London are in debt.
‘They are now toxic debts that cannot be recovered. There is also a 9% budget cut this year.
‘The government want to close down brilliant hospitals and we will fight and do all we can to stop that from happening.’
At the rally at Parliament Square, Professor Wendy Savage from Keep Our NHS public said: ‘I think that this government are completely at odds with what the country want.’
Angela from Save Charing Cross said: ‘We have had meetings of hundreds of people against closures in West London and big demonstrations. We have to continue, we will win.
‘Over fifty thousand people marched through Staffordshire, there is big a movement. They do not buy the government line.’