‘IT’S been one of our best pickets yet, now we have to be ready to occupy,’ North East London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers said yesterday.
Speaking at the end of the 7am-2pm monthly mass picket of Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, Rogers, Chairman of Chingford ASLEF branch, continued: ‘Youth came down early and it was great to have members of the Save St Ann’s Hospital Campaign Group joining us with their banner.
‘We appreciate it that they didn’t just give support but were very active on the picket line and helped us give out our Council of Action leaflets.
‘We will reciprocate for sure, all the cuts and closures are connected and part of the national policy of this Brown government.
‘The so-called Independent Reconfiguration Panel has sent its report on cuts and closures at Chase Farm to Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health.
‘The announcement is due to be made next week, the beginning of September, so we have to be ready to occupy Chase Farm to keep it open.
‘That’s why we are here today picketing, because we’ve got to be on our guard and alert to what might happen.
‘At the end of our one-thousand-strong march through Enfield last month we had a really good rally and we passed a unanimous vote in favour of an occupation of Chase Farm Hospital if that should become necessary.
‘If Alan Johnson declares any of these departments are to close we will have to occupy them, we have no choice.’
Local residents Matheos and Flore Panayiotou stopped and joined the picket, saying: ‘We love this hospital, we can’t let it close. It’s disgusting it’s a Labour government doing this.’
Accountant Ajit Bhavnani said: ‘Residents have to occupy, trade unions must do the same. Polyclinics are just a pilot scheme to be run by moneygrubbers, it wouldn’t work.’
Alan Woodward from Haringey Trades Council, who came with members of the Save St Ann’s Hospital Campaign Group, said: ‘We’ve been holding weekly pickets of St Ann’s Hospital in Tottenham since May.
‘The government’s Darzi Plan is to run down general hospitals on the one hand and doctors’ surgeries on the other and build up private polyclinics in their place.’
Barbara Hill and Mary Ramgoolam said: ‘We’re here from the Save St Ann’s group. We meet every Tuesday morning from 9-10am and we’ve been doing it for about 10 weeks.
‘We think it’s very important to support our GPs and local hospitals. They want to close quite a part of St Ann’s down and sell off the land for flats.’
Local housewife Donna James said: ‘More and more people live in this area and they are planning to shut down our hospital, we can’t let them, we’ll have to occupy.’