Unions must strike to stop NHS closures

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Demonstration in Hammersmith against the closure of four A&Es in west London – meanwhile west London’s Imperial College NHS Trust aims to double its private income
Demonstration in Hammersmith against the closure of four A&Es in west London – meanwhile west London’s Imperial College NHS Trust aims to double its private income

CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of four west London hospital Accident and Emergency Departments expressed fury yesterday at the declaration by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust that it intends to double its £39 million annual private income.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter said: ‘Despite claims that the West London closures are nothing to do with money, here we see in their own board report that Imperial are seeking to line their pockets by doubling private services — while at the same time cutting beds.’

Swee Wildman, Hammersmith and Fulham resident and Save Our Hospitals campaigner, told News Line: ‘Number one, we’re not surprised because that’s what its always been about, money. They know London land is at a premium.

‘They want to get rid of the old, the infirm, people who they think don’t count. It’s bullying. I feel that a lot of people can’t speak out, doctors and nurses who feel they can’t talk, because their jobs are jeopardised – it’s their job, it’s their livelihood.

‘The NHS belongs to us. What we have seen with this government is that they have done everything they can to run it down, to privatise it.

‘They are selling off the land at Charing Cross, they are going to demolish it, it’s absolutely terrible.

‘The unions should take strike action to defend the hospitals, defend the NHS. The whole country should come to a halt. There has to be a general strike.’

Under the Tory coalition’s west London hospital closure and privatisation plan, the Accident and Emergency Departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals are to close on September 10, followed by the closures of the A&Es at Ealing and Charing Cross District General Hospitals, coupled with their demolition and replacement by mainly private clinics and the selling off of most of their land.

The number of inpatient beds at Charing Cross will be slashed from 360 to 24. About 55 per cent of the Charing Cross site and 45 per cent of the St Mary’s, Paddington site will be sold to help fund the redevelopment.

In addition to the Lindo wing at St Mary’s, where a planned Caesarean birth costs £15,000, Imperial also has private beds at the Sainsbury wing at Hammersmith hospital and on the 15th floor at Charing Cross.

An Imperial spokeswoman said this week: ‘Our private beds are not currently at full capacity and the trust is aiming to increase its income by using existing private beds and facilities.’

She said greater efforts would be made to fill under-utilised private beds, but extra investment would also be required.