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Heatherwood hospital campaign shows determination
Eighteen months ago a group of activists met to discuss how best to resist plans by NHS bosses to close our local hospital.
The campaign has involved anti-cuts activists from Bracknell, Ascot, Windsor and Slough, drawn from local trade unions and political groups.
We have collected 23,000 names on our petition, which opposed the closure of Heatherwood or any of its services and we produced a People's Consultation which nearly 3,000 local people signed up to. This opposed all closures and demanded that the hospital remain an NHS hospital.
We organised three days of action with rallies and marches through Ascot. We have saturated the local press with our literature and letters and one local paper has supported our campaign.
Come rain or shine we have been out on the streets with leaflets and petitions, always receiving an enthusiastic response from the local community.
We defeated the original plan to close the hospital and sell the land. At a public meeting of around 500 people at Ascot Racecourse the NHS bosses presented their plans to close the hospital.
Every speaker from the floor, including hospital staff, expressed total opposition to the plans. The closure plans were withdrawn at that stage. We celebrated this victory while being aware that this was only a partial success.
We can win
The NHS bosses came back with plans to close a number of services at the hospital including the birthing centre, the rehabilitation ward and the minor injuries unit.
A bitter battle has been conducted against these plans over the last few months. We defeated a 'pre-consultation exercise' but this was ignored by the Trust and they pushed ahead with the consultation which concludes at the end of January.
While we are not assured of victory, we have shown that with a fighting leadership involving the whole community, we can challenge cost-cutting policies.
Terry Pearce, chair of Defend Our Community Services and member of Save Heatherwood Hospital Campaign
Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777
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