On Saturday September 29, disability activists, the Very Rev. David Ison, the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the MP Michael Meacher and representatives of the Occupy movement held a protest in Parliament Square entitled “10,000 Cuts and Counting,” at which and John McDonnell MP and Louise Irvine, a GP and member of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the National Health Action Party, also spoke.
The event was described as “a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for those who have had their lives devastated by the austerity programme, including more than 10,000 people who died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, the degrading test used by the government to assess the needs of people receiving benefits related to disability and ill health.”
In my many articles about the Tory-led government’s relentless and disgraceful assault on the disabled, I refer to the assessments as a process designed to find mentally and physically disabled people fit for work, when they are not, as it has been clear from the beginning that Atos has been hired not to conduct objective evaluations, but to cut financial support for disabled people on the orders of the government. Read the rest of this entry »
On Saturday, another high-profile event took place in the campaign to “Save Lewisham Hospital” from destruction by senior NHS managers and the government, with an event entitled, “Born in Lewisham,” in which campaigners showed their support for the hospital with a gathering outside the entrance on Lewisham High Street, and a rally afterwards in Ladywell Fields, with speakers, music and stalls.
The particular focus of the event was on people born in Lewisham Hospital, who were encouraged to show their support for the hospital by having their photos taken for a photo gallery (forthcoming on the Save Lewisham Hospital website) and carrying home-made placards or wearing T-shirts with personalised messages. Some of those photos are featured in this photo set, and the previous one which I posted on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »
Defend London’s NHS: A Week of Action, a set on Flickr.
Last week, from February 9 to 16, campaigners across London — in Lewisham, in Hammersmith, in Ealing, in Archway and in Kingston — who are fighting to save essential frontline services from the government (which is committed to the destruction of the NHS), and from senior NHS management (who have forgotten what the NHS is for), came together as ”Defend London’s NHS,” an unprecedented coalition of MPs, unions, campaigners, patients, doctors and other health workers.
In the inaugural week of action, there were events on Saturday February 9 outside Ealing Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital (between Brent and Ealing), which are two of the four A&E Departments (out of nine in total) that face the axe in north west London, along with the two hospitals in Hammersmith — Charing Cross and Hammersmith itself, and there were also protests and events throughout the week, culminating in a rally in Lewisham on Friday (see my photos here), and rallies in Hammersmith and Kingston on Saturday.
The Parliamentary launch of “Defend London’s NHS”
However, the week of action’s central event took place on Monday February 11, when “Defend London’s NHS” was launched in the House of Commons. At this event, the speakers, who included the doctors Louise Irvine, the chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, and Onkar Sahota, the chair of the Ealing Save Our Hospitals campaign, and two MPs, Andy Slaughter and Heidi Alexander, were united in their recognition that the NHS currently faces an unparalleled threat, greater than at any other time in its 65-year history. Read the rest of this entry »
Save Lewisham Hospital Rally, February 15, 2013, a set on Flickr.
In Lewisham, in south east London, Save Lewisham Hospital campaigners, trade union representatives and concerned residents of the London Borough of Lewisham attended a rally at the war memorial opposite Lewisham Hospital, on Lewisham High Street, at 1pm on Thursday February 15, to tell the government and senior NHS management that they — we — will continue to campaign to save Lewisham Hospital from the plans to severely downgrade its services and to sell off 60 percent of its buildings, which were approved two weeks ago by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The proposals were put forward in October by Matthew Kershaw, an NHS Special Administrator charged with finding solutions to the financial problems of a neighbouring NHS trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, which was placed in administration in the summer. Under those plans, Lewisham’s A&E Department will close, replaced by an Urgent Care Unit, which cannot deal with emergencies, and this will have a severe impact on the hospital’s ability to survive. There will no longer be an intensive care unit, other acute services will be shut, and, according to Hunt, just 10 percent of the 4,400 Lewisham mothers who give birth in Lewisham every year will be able to do so in future, as any birth that carries a risk of complications will have to take place elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »
Please sign the petition to save Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services and send it on to your friends and family. Over 16,000 people have already signed!
And here are the crucial dates for your diary:
This Saturday, November 24, “Hands Around Our Hospital” is a major march and rally in Lewisham, with the intention of attracting at least 5,000 protestors to show the government that the people of Lewisham will not accept plans to close the A&E Department and downgrade maternity services to pay for debts elsewhere in the NHS. Meet at Loampit Vale roundabout at 2pm, and link hands around the hospital at 3pm. Afterwards there will be a rally in Ladywell Fields, with speakers including local GP, Dr. Louise Irvine, Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham, and other health workers and patients. If you want to help, see here.
Next Wednesday, November 28, there is a Public Meeting at Catford Broadway Theatre, at 7pm, with speakers including Dr. Louise Irvine and Dr. John Lister, who featured prominently in “Wake Up Call,” a film by Anne-Marie Sweeney, produced last year for Keep Our NHS Public and Health Emergency. Read the rest of this entry »
Please sign the petition to save Lewisham’s A&E and maternity services and send it on to your friends and family!
Residents of the London Borough of Lewisham turned up in force for a public meeting yesterday evening in Lewisham Hospital, to show their opposition to the plans, announced last week, to close the hospital’s A&E (Accident and Emergency) Department and to cut maternity services and other clinical functions. Although Lewisham NHS Trust is financially healthy, a special administrator appointed by the government is making Lewisham pay for the problems of a neighbouring trust, the South London Healthcare Trust, which was declared bankrupt in summer, largely as a result of horrendous PFI contracts.
The South London Healthcare Trust runs — or ran — Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup, and under the special administrator’s proposals, it will be broken up, with Lewisham downgraded through no fault of its own trust, and just one A&E Department — in Woolwich — serving the 750,000 inhabitants of the three boroughs of Lewisham, Greenwich and Bexley.
The situation could hardly be more urgent. If the proposals put forward by the special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, are not defeated by pressure from NHS professionals, lawyers, activists and the residents of Lewisham within the next five weeks (by December 13), the Tories’ new NHS butcher, the sleaze-drenched slimeball Jeremy Hunt (who took over from Andrew Lansley, the discredited architect of the NHS privatisation bill that was approved by Parliament in March this year), will approve the plans in the new year, and Lewisham’s slow death will begin. Read the rest of this entry »
As the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department intensifies, with a petition launched by Heidi Alexander MP close to reaching 5,000 signatures in just four days, the South London Press, the bi-weekly regional newspaper based in Streatham, has added its support, with a front-page story in Friday’s edition, entitled, “Join the fight: Save our A&E.”
This is the kind of campaigning spirit that is sadly lacking in the mainstream media, and it is to be hoped that the SLP‘s assistance will help to persuade more people to become involved in the campaign to save Lewisham’s A&E Department, and also to prevent plans for maternity services to be severely downgraded, and for half the hospital to be sold off.
As I reported on Monday, the plans for Lewisham were included in a draft report put together by Matthew Kershaw, a special administrator appointed by Andrew Lansley to find solutions to the financial woes of the South London Hospital Trust, a “super-trust” serving Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley, which was suspended in July. The trust’s deficit is expected to reach £207 million by next year, although a third of this is because of rip-off PFI deals for rebuilding two of the three trust’s three hospitals under the last government — Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal in Orpington (the trust’s third hospital is St. Mary’s in Sidcup). As the Daily Telegraph explained, “The PFIs deals are costing the trust £69 million a year … Some £61 million of that is thought to be interest alone.” Read the rest of this entry »
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