Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/486/2402
STOP NHS CUTS
Save Maudsley emergency clinic now!
"WE WILL fight tooth and nail. We have been out on the streets, we have had four demonstrations, we will not allow this clinic to close. We will do anything we have to do, including civil disobedience, to keep this clinic open".
These were my words as secretary of Southwark and Lambeth Keep Our NHS Public, at a meeting of over 100 local people last week.
Trade unionists, health workers and service users in Southwark are united in wanting to save the Maudsley Hospital Emergency Clinic and the Felix Post Unit, an elderly day hospital.
All over the country mental health services, treated by the government as the NHS's poor relations, are taking a battering from government cut-backs. It seems no part of mental health is safe. This national centre of excellence, the emergency clinic at the Maudsley in south London, is to close next Monday 14 May.
But as one service user put it: "The fight's not over yet". A judicial review of the decision to close the emergency clinic has been issued. This is because none of the 'back-up plans', which include extra resources at the neighbouring hospital's accident and emergency department, are being implemented.
However, even if this so-called back-up plan is put into place it would not fill the gap left by the emergency clinic's closure. As a service user put it: "Combining Accident and Emergency and mental health services has never worked. I don't know why they think it will work now". Southwark and Lambeth have the highest mental health morbidity rate in the country. This clinic saves lives; closing it will leave those in need isolated and vulnerable.
The legal side of things is one part of the campaign, the other is to get as many people out onto the streets to defend these services as possible over the next few days. There will be a vigil and protest on Saturday 12 May at 5.30 pm outside the Maudsley hospital in Camberwell, south London. Health campaigners from all over London are urged to attend. Campaigners are also demanding an urgent meeting with Health Minister Patricia Hewitt.
Nationally, the fight to save the NHS from cuts and privatisation goes on. News that financially 'failing' hospitals will be merged, closed or turned into foundation hospitals, a step to privatisation, angers health workers and users.
The full crisis in maternity services has been uncovered recently, exposing Victorian conditions on labour wards due to a shortage of midwives and special baby units.
NHS anniversary day on 5 July must be marked with protests nationwide. Keep Our NHS Public are organising a meeting in Parliament and a protest on Parliament Green and will issue a statement in support of the NHS's founding principles.
The PUSH (People United Saving Hospitals) campaign urges people to join this Central London protest.
These demonstrations will be an important staging post towards the trade union organised national demonstration on 13 October when many thousands are expected to march in defence of the National Health Service.
In The Socialist 10 May 2007:
Socialist Party election analysis
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party workplace news