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Protests over NHS cuts pile pressure on health bosses

by Sarah Ensor

Over 25,000 people marched in Lewisham, south east London over health cuts last month  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Over 25,000 people marched in Lewisham, south east London over health cuts last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Almost every part of the NHS is under attack.

But widespread opposition has pushed councils and health bosses to hype up small retreats to try and undermine protest.

So Hammersmith and Fulham council last week announced an apparent climbdown over cuts to Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.

Councillor Marcus Ginn said £90 million would be spent remaking Charing Cross into a Specialist Health and Social Care hospital.

Management had previously insisted that Charing Cross would close.

It isn’t clear whether this £90 million will be extra money.

But even if it is, Charing Cross will still be downgraded as part of the “out of hospital” strategy supported by both Labour and the Tories.

According to this, hospitals can close because people will be better treated in the community.

And both Charing Cross and Hammersmith will still lose their A&Es.

But protests can stop the attacks.

Furness General Hospital cancelled a plan to close maternity services and critical care for newborns after 250 people met to protest against it.

Shortages

The cuts would have sent patients 45 miles to reach the nearest service. Bosses said they were due to staff shortages. Yet following opposition, they solved the staff shortage in less than a week.

Protests against health cuts continued during a week of action to save the NHS in London last week.

In a fantastic piece of opportunism Chris Grayling called a meeting to save Epsom Hospital A&E.

Grayling is the local Tory MP in the area as well as being a cabinet minister.

Some 400 people turned up. GPs and local residents spoke angrily from the floor against the closures.

Members of South West London Save Our Hospitals pointed to the hypocrisy of a Tory minister talking about saving local hospitals.

Protests also took place at Ealing and Central Middlesex hospitals on Saturday of last week.

Attacks on health workers have come alongside NHS cuts. The Yorkshire Ambulance service derecognised the paramedics’ Unite union last week because workers refused to accept the use of drivers who would not be trained paramedics.

Activists in Kingston, south west London, plan to demonstrate against health cuts on Saturday of this week.

Others are set to protest in Lewisham and at a Health Emergency conference in Manchester.


Article information

News
Tue 12 Feb 2013, 16:39 GMT
Issue No. 2340
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