Hospitals across Britain are threatened with ward closures while thousands of health workers face redundancy in a new wave of government cuts.
There are plans to “downscale” scores of hospitals – replacing accident and emergency departments with local treatment centres and closing maternity units.
Now angry activists are planning a series of local marches to defend their hospitals.
The first is set for Ilford in Essex this Saturday, where wards at the modern King George hospital face the axe.
Campaigners for the Whittington hospital in north London are set to follow with another march on Saturday 27 February.
Some 250 people came to a public meeting there last year.
Shirley Franklin, the joint chair of the campaign, told Socialist Worker that it has been inundated with support.
“People here are terrified at the prospect of losing their hospital and as a result this is unlike any other battle I’ve been involved in,” she says.
“We leave petition boards in shops and doctors’ surgeries and find them completely filled within days.
“Even the police have told me that they expect our march to be huge.”
New Labour is forcing new NHS facilities to be opened to the market, raising the prospect of private firms profiting from the closure programme.
Other planned cuts already include:
- The loss of A&E and maternity units at Surrey’s Kingston hospital after it was revealed last week that they are earmarked for closure.
- 700 jobs across three hospitals in Leicester announced this month.
- Up to 400 jobs at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.
lMany health authorities are “actively exploring” plans to cut up to 10 percent of jobs. Top NHS boss Sir David Nicholson says, “I’m not interested in proposals. I want the money in the tin.”
- Spending on new hospitals could be slashed by more than 21 percent, according to a leaked health department document.
It is vital that health unions throw their weight behind the growing wave of protests.
By uniting workers and the community we have an opportunity to roll back the attacks – not just after the election but right now.
March against closure of King George’s A&E.
Saturday 13 February, 12.45pm. King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Chadwell Heath, IG3
Open meeting: London NHS on the brink.
Thursday 25 February, 7pm. Great Hall, BMA House, Tavistock Square, W1
Demonstrate to save the Whittington A&E.
Saturday 27 February, 12 noon. Highbury Fields, N5