West London hospital cuts march
Photo report by Peter Arkell
Over 1,000 people demonstrated in two marches through Ealing in West London at the weekend to protest at proposed cuts in their local hospitals.
Four of them in north-west London have been marked out to lose their accident and emergency services. Ealing Hospital is also set to lose its maternity ward. About 1,000 beds are set to disappear under the plans.
The consultation document from North-West London NHS has raised a storm of protest. It envisages “urgent care centres” taking on much of the emergency work. These centres are not allowed to treat patients with certain conditions and lack the specialist care and knowledge found at A & E hospital departments.
And health service workers argue that the loss of these services, as in the past, is likely to lead to the loss of many of their remaining services. The hospitals could eventually be threatened with closure. If these cuts take place, they point out, it could take as long as an hour to get emergency patients to hospital from some parts of the area.
The meeting at Ealing Common where the two marches converged was addressed by a consultant, a GP, several Labour MPs, a Tory MP, the Labour leader of Ealing Council, the leader of the Tory group on the council, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson as well as trade union and community representatives. The GMB speaker accused the government of “setting the NHS up to fail” by starving it of resources, while several other speakers said the government’s strategy was the gradual privatisation of the NHS. Many of the speakers called for a big London-wide protest day of action on May 18.
29 April 2013