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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 February 2013

Lewisham hospital protests continue

Roger Shrives
Marching to save Lewisham hospital, 26.1.13, photo Paul Mattsson

Marching to save Lewisham hospital, 26.1.13, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

The main road outside Lewisham Hospital was noisier than usual on 31 January as car, bus and lorry drivers beeped their horns in support of angry protesters.

Tory health minister Jeremy Hunt had just announced that Lewisham hospital accident and emergency department and maternity services would remain open but face huge cuts.

South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) which runs hospitals in Woolwich, Bromley and Sidcup is also being dissolved, leading to more massive cuts, closures, job losses and cancelled operations.

25,000 people had joined a protest march in Lewisham only five days earlier. This massive community resistance clearly had some effect as the government appointed special administrator Matthew Kershaw had been considering closing these services completely.

Marching to save Lewisham hospital, 26.1.13 , photo Paul Mattsson

Marching to save Lewisham hospital, 26.1.13 , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Kershaw had argued that the A&E, staffed by GPs and nurses, should be replaced by an urgent care unit that could only deal with less seriously ill people.

Hunt, under pressure from the marvellous protests, said that Lewisham A&E would remain as a smaller service but with the aim of more serious cases being eventually shuffled off out of Lewisham. The plan has been described as a 'glorified 24/7 GP practice'.

NHS workers are angry at these serious cuts, so are the patients of today and tomorrow. All these life-threatening attacks are due to financial problems at SLHT which, like many hospital trusts, ran up against the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), where private firms like banks and construction companies get to own and run hospitals - interest repayments in the trust have reached 61 million a year!

The bosses have started a war over the NHS. The working class should lead the fightback but more than petitions, protests and demos are needed. Growing numbers of health workers are calling for industrial action such as strikes.

This is a stay of execution but not a reprieve. The opposition has been loud but, so far, muted from the labour movement's leaders.

A concerted programme of strikes, community protest and demonstrations - including a national protest against NHS 'reforms' - could beat the Con-Dems' local and national plans for the NHS.

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In The Socialist 6 February 2013:


Socialist Party NHS campaigning

Fight to save NHS

Revolt against pay cuts strengthened at Mid-Yorkshire NHS

Lewisham hospital protests continue

Whipps Cross workers prepare for fight against jobs and pay cuts

Scrap PFI, not our hospitals


Socialist Party news and analysis

Cracks in the coalition - we must take advantage of the divided enemy

As Gove attacks teachers: NUT leaders - delay no longer

Childcare plans spell disaster

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

Organised fightback needed to save council services


Socialist Party reviews and comments

Cut tax dodging not benefits

Film review: Steven Spielberg's Lincoln


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Brutal cuts announced in Cardiff

Derby Labour councillors 'oppose' cuts - then vote for them

Tamil Solidarity looks at 65 years of 'independence' in Sri Lanka

Support the Socialist with a May Day greeting

Socialist Party regional conferences


Socialist Party workplace news

Workers tell Bromley council: We won't sign up to your plans

Labour cuts better than Tory ones?

Attempts to force Unison branches to affiliate to Labour

London mayor pressing ahead with fire service cuts

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Battle for control of mining sector


 

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