Activists are organising against A&E closures and hospital cuts across London, writes Julie Sherry
Threatened NHS cuts have sparked enormous anger and opposition. In some cases whole hospitals face the axe, alongside a swathe of A&Es and other departments.
Hundreds of people have attended initial meetings of local campaigns across London. Already activists have called three marches for September.
These will add to the growing pressure on the government in the run-up to the TUC national demonstration on 20 October.
Across north west London—in Ealing, Brent and Hammersmith—the fight is on against plans to axe almost half of the area’s A&E departments.
In Morden, south London, St Helier hospital’s A&E and maternity units are under attack. And in Greenwich, south east London, the whole South London NHS Trust is going into administration. All three hospitals it covers could close.
Activists are building broad campaigns against the attacks. Brent campaigners will march to the threatened Central Middlesex hospital on Saturday 15 September.
A demonstration has been called in Greenwich on 8 September, and meetings are being organised to build it. Leafleting sessions across the borough are planned.
Alys, a student nurse in south east London, told Socialist Worker, “We need a broad, united campaign to fight this. “What’s happening in this trust is going on elsewhere.
“If campaigns can be built simultaneously everywhere there’s an attack we can build a real pressure on NHS bosses and the government. But we also have to link up with every campaign where people are fighting austerity.”
Ealing’s follow-up meeting brought together 250 people, just two weeks after a meeting of 160. A local church provided the venue for free—along with free cups of tea.
The panel of speakers included the local London Assembly member and former GP Onkar Sahota, as well as two local Labour MPs and the leader of the council.
A health worker from Ealing hospital told the meeting that staff had been informed by managers that more than the A&E would be closing.
The worker reported that other departments were already under threat, and they stressed that this could lead to the closure of the whole hospital.
In 2010, a mass campaign stopped the closure of the Whittington hospital’s A&E department in north London. This campaign held a local demonstration of 5,000 people.
Two years into the Tories’ vicious austerity—which has been met with growing struggle—the attacks on the NHS have been a source of deep anger.
The new wave of attacks could see big protests in many areas that feed into the generalised fightback against the Tories and fuel the resistance.
Greenwich trades council public meeting: Thursday 19 July, 7.30pm, Charlton House, Charlton Road, London SE7 8RE