UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Thousands protest at Lewisham hospital closure plan

An estimated 10,000 turned out yesterday in driving rain to protest at Lewisham A&E closure plans. A new UNISON campaign banner and posters were to the fore on a rally that brought a huge turnout from the community with an encouraging presence of young people. Some reports said the demonstration against this 'attack on the NHS' was the biggest Lewisham had seen for 30 years.

Conroy Lawrence, UNISON Branch Secretary, said: "We are overwhelmed by the response of the local community. That in incessant rain over 10,000 people from all parts of the community would attend is truly inspiring to the staff at the hospital. UNISON along with other unions at the hospital will be redoubling our efforts to defend Lewisham's vital A&E from closure.

"This campaign has the full support of the medical, nursing and professional staff and their unions and with the support of the local community we are unstoppable. The people have spoken and the politicians and bureaucrats would do well to listen."

The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign outlines starkly what the closure plans are about: “The recommendation to close Lewisham A&E is part of an ideological assault on the NHS. The administrator’s plans to make cuts and close local competitors is designed to make South London’s services more attractive to private healthcare.

"Although some NHS Trusts have expressed an interest in running South London’s services, so have many private companies. The tendering process will be overseen by Jeremy Hunt, not the administrator. It is likely to be focussed on cost and servicing the debt, rather than quality. So although headlines are focussed on local trusts, private health companies are at an advantage when they compete on cost, because they don’t bear the costs of A&Es, intensive care, or training medical professionals.

"Do not be fooled into thinking any of our A&Es have to close for the sake of patients, it is being done to attack our NHS. Lewisham Healthcare runs a successful hospital, which could die a slow death if the administrator’s plans are taken up. http://www.savelewishamhospital.com/why-close-lewisham-ae/

"South London Healthcare has inherited immense debts caused by political mismanagement - unaffordable bank loans were taken out at the same time rules were introduced to ban the NHS distributing money from profitable areas to those that were in need. So, despite excellent rates of infection and low mortality, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Queen Mary’s, Sidcup, Princess Royal, Farnborough and Orpington Hospital were deemed failures.

"The NHS is now structured so that individual trusts cannot receive surplus money from other areas, but when it comes to savage cuts, the opposite applies. The government is using semantic arguments about why £4billion pounds of NHS cash reserves can’t be used and why Lewisham A&E should close."