The madness of King George cuts

The four-year campaign to keep the accident and emergency department open at King George hospital, east London, continued on Saturday with another demonstration from the hospital to Ilford town centre. Also at stake are maternity and other services.

This plan will devastate local health care. Ambulance drivers have reported that they have been diverted back to King George when the nearest alternative, Queen’s in Romford, cannot cope. The plans by the primary care trust will affect at least 700,000 people who face a significantly longer – and in some cases potentially fatal – journey to Whipps Cross hospital in Waltham Forest or to Queen’s.

The anger of local people has forced the two local MPs – Tory Lee Scott and New Labour’s Mike Gapes – to back the campaign. And they do so without a hint of irony.

It was down to two Socialist Party speakers to point out that successive governments – from Thatcher in the 1980s, the Blair/Brown administrations, and now the Con-Dem coalition – have systematically eroded public healthcare. Their comments really struck a chord with the crowd.

Although the supposedly final decision to close these essential services has been taken, it has yet to be ratified. Con-Dem cuts cost lives – the campaign continues.

Manny Thain