‘SAVE Chase Farm Occupy Now! Whose hospital? Our Hospital!’
More than 200 marchers chanted these slogans as they moved onto the Chase Farm Hospital site in Enfield yesterday evening, determined to stop the closure of the Enfield Hospital.
The march, called by the North East London Council of Action, was led by its Secretary Bill Rogers into the area, outside the Maternity Unit which is threatened with closure within days.
He told the marchers: ‘I have got to tell you they have got the whole hospital in lock down.
‘This Maternity Unit is completely shut, they will not open the doors to anyone.
‘Visitors and relatives are being turned away.’
He continued: ‘When we were organising the march we were threatened with being arrested under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.
‘This government is trying to destroy the National Health Service.
‘As we are talking we are living in a baby boom and yet they are closing down Maternity Units. There is a massive shortage of midwives, and it was announced only yesterday by the Royal College of Nursing, that there is a 20,000 shortfall of nursing staff.
‘They are out to smash this Maternity Unit at Chase Farm and the Accident and Emergency Unit.
‘So who are the criminals. . . obviously the government, but the real criminals are the trade union leaders who refuse to call any action to defend the NHS.
‘This week Keogh announced on behalf of the government, the bringing in of a two-tier Accident and Emergency system. They are downgrading 100 A&E Units. Ambulance workers are being told don’t take patients to A&E. Take them anywhere but not to A&E.
‘We are taking this fight forward. We are not here to make this hospital a battlefield although we are determined to save this hospital, but the real battlefield is in the trade unions.
‘Up at Grangemouth just two weeks ago, Len McCluskey the leader of Unite, agreed to a three year No Strike deal.
‘These union leaders are yellow bellied. The only thing keeping this government in power is these union leaders.
‘We need the health unions to support and organise occupations.
‘The National Health Service was brought in after World War II and the working class won’t let it go.
‘We are asking the local trade unions to come and occupy. They plan to come and close the Accident and Emergency on the 9th of December, and we are calling to occupy on the 8th.
‘Come to the News Line Anniversary Rally this Sunday to discuss and organise this action.
‘We are continuing our constant presence at this hospital.
‘Come and join the picket tomorrow,’ Rogers urged.
Enfield residents, trade unionists and Chase Farm Hospital workers were on the march.
Kathleen a Unison member told News Line: ‘I work at Chase Farm and I want to keep my hospital open.
‘We have got to make the unions fight. We have got to look back in history at what the unions were created for.’
Enfield resident and worker James Mills told News Line: ‘I was born at Chase Farm Hospital in 1983. My younger brother was born there too.
‘I know people who work there and the thought of losing the hospital unnerves me. It is our hospital. It is Enfield’s Hospital. It must stay.’