ABOUT 5,000 people marched in Greenock, near Glasgow, last Saturday against proposals to downgrade Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH) and to close Ravenscraig Hospital.
This was the biggest demonstration Greenock has ever seen. One protester said this was “Greenock’s 15 February”.
These proposals are part of a project to centralise hospital services at the Paisley Royal Alexandria Hospital.
This has led to a programme of cuts by the New Labour appointed Argyle and Clyde Health Board.
This is supposed to provide vital health services for 214,000 people living in the Paisley, Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire area.
The creation of this health authority has already led to the closure of the maternity and midwifery services at Greenock IRH and Vale of Leven Hospital.
The 5,000 people who protested in Greenock gave campaigners hope that there is a possibility we can stop this madness.
In the lead-up to the protest 20,000 people signed a petition against the cuts at IRH and against the closure of Ravenscraig Hospital.
Saturday’s demonstration was a success because it was organised by trade unions, community groups, the local council, and the local paper, which produced posters and placards.
Three generations of women from one Port Glasgow family were on the demo. Hannah Young was there with her mother Isabel and her daughter Gail, who recently did work experience at Inverclyde Royal.
Hannah is appalled at the priorities of the politicians and health board. She said:
“These cuts will cause deaths, but most MPs aren’t bothered about ordinary people—they’re only worried about how much money they have coming in at the end of the month.”
The march finished with a rally which was addressed by local New Labour MSP Duncan McNeil.
He tried to blame the health authority, the European Working Time Directive and hospital consultants. People didn’t fall for this, and booed him.
Marchers chanted for Malcolm Chisholm, the Scottish health minister, to go. They also chanted, “Plenty of money for war and death—spend it on the NHS.”