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Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16545

Posted on 22 April 2013 at 11:46 GMT

Demo to save services at Dewsbury hospital, 20.4.13, photo by John Rattigan

Demo to save services at Dewsbury hospital, 20.4.13, photo by John Rattigan   (Click to enlarge)

United show of opposition to NHS cuts in Dewsbury

Around 300 protesters crowded into Dewsbury town centre last Saturday, 20th April, to demonstrate in favour of maintaining all hospital services at the local hospital.

This is the same NHS Trust which has elected to take on its admin workers in a bitter industrial dispute to downgrade most of its workers.

Demo to save services at Dewsbury hospital, 20.4.13, photo John Rattigan

Demo to save services at Dewsbury hospital, 20.4.13, photo John Rattigan

The entire campaign has therefore taken on many dimensions and has rarely been out of the public eye.

The imported chief executive Stephen Eames must feel under siege from all sides. However the day belonged to the local campaign group which marched through the town centre in brilliant sunshine and was warmly welcomed by shoppers and bystanders alike who applauded the protesters as they marched and chanted their way back to the town hall.

The demo was greeted by a range of excellent speakers who called for further action to combat any downgrading of services in Dewsbury.

Save our local hospital services (SOLHS) demonstration, held on Saturday 20 April 2013 in Dewsbury, photo by Dawn Wheelhouse

Save our local hospital services (SOLHS) demonstration, held on Saturday 20 April 2013 in Dewsbury, photo by Dawn Wheelhouse   (Click to enlarge)

One of the biggest cheers of the day was for Dave Byrom from Unison who demanded general strike action to save all public services, and to match the heroism of his local members who are gearing up for round three of their strike action.

Two local GPs spoke out against the Trust plans, also condemning the imminent privatisation of GP services across the board. The local MP Mike Wood called for a generalised 'poll tax' rebellion to save the NHS.

The march attracted a strong showing from the local Asian community which was also reflected in the platform: two speakers from the local Al Hikmah centre pledged donations of 250 to keep the campaign going and congratulated 'our champion' Paul Wheelhouse for his excellent campaigning work as secretary of the Save Local Hospital Services Group.

Demo to save services at Dewsbury hospital, 20.4.13, photo John Rattigan

Demo to save services at Dewsbury hospital, 20.4.13, photo John Rattigan   (Click to enlarge)

It was hugely significant that there was a local united demonstration of strength from all sections of the community in the same place where the EDL had held a rally of hate 10 months earlier.

Members of the public were encouraged to fill in the questionnaires sent out by the Trust to condemn the proposals and to follow the campaign's pointers on how to answer their questions so as not to be tricked into mistakenly endorsing their plans.

A public meeting next week to be addressed by Professor John Lister from London Health Emergency will map out a clear and well argued alternative to the Trust's appalling cuts.

As the campaign's message and determination spreads, so confidence in the fighting leadership of Save Local Hospital Services and its co-thinkers in Mid Yorks Unison will also give the wider public hope that their hospital can be saved.

The Socialist Party sold out of its 60 papers before the march, collected over 160 for the campaign's coffers and raised 30 for the party's Fighting Fund.

Mike Forster

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 22 April 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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