‘I AM confident that we will see thousands on today’s march to keep Chase Farm Hospital open’, said Bill Rogers secretary of the North-East London Council of Action.
He continued: ‘This is the year we should be celebrating that we’ve had an NHS for 60 years.
‘But the closure threat hanging over Chase Farm and other hospitals means we’re not celebrating, we’re fighting privatisation, cuts and closures on all fronts.
‘We’ve got the Darzi plan, which threatens with closure 24 of the 32 District General Hospitals in the London area alone, and their replacement with inferior, privately-run polyclinics.
‘And that Darzi plan is to be rolled out nationally.
‘Chase Farm is in the front line of this fight to defend the NHS.
‘Next Thursday, the so-called independent review panel is issuing its decision on the future of Chase Farm to the Secretary of State for Health.
‘We are convinced they will rubber stamp the closure decision.
‘The North-East London Council of Action was set up over a year ago to oppose the politically-driven cuts and closures at Whipps Cross, North Mid and Chase Farm hospitals.
‘As railway workers, bus workers and members of other trade unions, we recognise the need for these hospitals with their A&E departments.
‘We’ll be calling on the people at the rally at the end of the march to support an occupation of the hospital to keep Chase Farm open, if that becomes necessary.
‘In the last year of campaigning, we haven’t found anyone who supports the closure of Chase Farm, not a single one, that’s amongst thousands and thousands of people.
‘If we occupy, there should be strike action to support us and to defend the NHS.
‘The TUC must organise a general strike to defend the NHS.
‘They would get it in two minutes if they put out the call.’
Many workers and local residents on Enfield High Street told News Line yesterday they were coming on the march.
Retired nurse and UNISON member, R. Gopy, said: ‘I came here 40 years ago from Mauritius. The matron came and recruited us, and I’ve worked 35 years for the NHS as did my husband, who has passed away, and so did my three sisters.
‘Ten years ago they went back to recruit from Mauritius and the Philippines and my younger sister is now working at Chase Farm.
‘I agree with occupying the hospital 200 per cent.’
Dentist Savitha Kurubarahalli said: ‘We send a lot of our patients onto the hospital and we need to keep Chase Farm open.
‘They are giving GP contracts to American private companies to run GP practices.
‘They are not even health organisations, they are just private firms out to make a profit,’ she said.
Fellow dentist Shalandu Wrai added: ‘Once it’s gone under private organisation, they will not even bother with people on Income Support.’
Southgate College student Miran Raesi said: ‘My mum was in Chase Farm for surgery for five days and we are so grateful for the staff.
‘It’s ridiculous. I’ll be on the march and I’ll support an occupation of the hospital.’