Socialist Worker

Hundreds march against downgrade of A&E as opposition to NHS cuts spreads

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2546

Around 500 people marched to save their local accident and emergency (A&E) department at King George Hospital in Redbridge, east London, last Saturday.

They are fighting plans to downgrade the A&E into an “urgent care centre” which only deals with minor injuries.

This attack is part of a much broader plan to slash health services across north east London.

<div class=image-caption> <h3><span class=caption>Hospital workers say no to outsourcing</span></h3>  <p><span class=caption>Barnsley Hospital workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions and Save Our NHS campaigners lobbied a board of governors’ meeting on Wednesday of last week.</span></p>  <p><span class=caption>The hospital has set up a private company called Barnsley Support Services. It wants to transfer the hospital estate, maintenance, procurement and other support staff to it. Existing staff will be protected for a period under Tupe regulations but unions fear that the move will lead to a two-tier workforce. </span></p>  <p><span class=caption>Liz Mawson, lead steward for Unison, said, “If our hospital goes down this route other hospitals will follow.” (Pic: Tony Nuttall)</span></p>  <hr /></div>

Hospital workers say no to outsourcing

Barnsley Hospital workers in the Unison, Unite and GMB unions and Save Our NHS campaigners lobbied a board of governors’ meeting on Wednesday of last week. (Pic: Tony Nuttall)

The hospital has set up a private company called Barnsley Support Services. It wants to transfer the hospital estate, maintenance, procurement and other support staff to it.

Existing staff will be protected for a period under Tupe regulations but unions fear that the move will lead to a two-tier workforce.

Liz Mawson, lead steward for Unison, said, “If our hospital goes down this route other hospitals will follow.”

Tony Nuttall


It is one of 44 regional Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) the Tories are imposing on the NHS in England, aiming to slash £22 billion by 2020/21.

East London GP Jackie Applebee-Turner said, “They say that they won’t have to close any hospitals in north east London because our population is growing and we will need them.

“But we say, ‘What about King George?’

“They say it was decided before the STP so it doesn’t count but that’s complete nonsense—of course it counts”.

Jackie said, “The big problem is that they want to make half a billion in ‘efficiency savings’ across north east London.”

Bosses argue that Queen’s Hospital in neighbouring Romford will take up the slack from Redbridge after the closure.

But Jackie said, “No hospital trust in London has reached the targets for four hour waits in A&E.

“It’s supposed to be 95 percent—in Queen’s it was 84 percent. How has Queen’s got the capacity to take patients that would normally go to King George?”

There is growing opposition to the Tories’ plans. Local health campaigns have been boosted by the magnificent 200,000-strong national demonstration in defence of the NHS earlier this month.

Under pressure from these campaigns, a growing number of councils have refused to sign off on their local STPs.

A planned march in Leeds on Saturday 1 April could be the next step in taking forward the fight.


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