Monday, 18 February 2013

Rally condemns Council over hospital cuts

A large rally in Lyric Square on Saturday afternoon heard condemnations of the Council over their "sell out" and "betrayal" of local hospitals. Local community campaign leader Carlo Nero led the charge, holding up a copy of the leaflet that was delivered to every house in the borough recently and which claims to have "saved" Charing Cross hospital. Here's some of what he had to say:

He went on to note that the Council's leaflet mentioned not a word about Hammersmith hospital in this part of the borough, nor did it mention the loss of 440 beds at Charing Cross. They had collaborated and colluded in the closure of one, and reduction of another to the status of a small "cottage hospital", he said. "Shame!" cried the crowd. "Thank-you" said Mr Nero.

Listening to speeches
Andy Slaughter was next up, repeating Mr Nero's charges, and urging people to attend a protest outside the NHS NW London meeting in Westminster on Tuesday morning. These were Tory cuts at national level, being implemented willingly at local level by a Tory council, he said.

The rally, which I would estimate numbered about 250 people, consisted mainly of people doing their shopping and who hapennned to be out and about at the time. The stand with petitions against the cuts did a steady trade of people wishing to sign up to express their opposition.

Andy Slaughter MP
Carlo Nero at the start claimed not to care about which political party people had come from: "this is a non party political campaign!" he declared. Which sat a bit awkwardly with the warm up act that had preceded him, a women's singing group from Lewisham who had attended "in solidarity" and sung a bawdy song about "Tories" and their "public sector cuts". This was much appreciated by the banner carrying Socialist Worker party comrades in the crowd, while the campaign's PR chief tweeted his own thoughts about the Conservatives:

So it's now a pretty anti Government and anti Tory campaign, as well you think it might be since they are the ones now implementing the radical downsizing of one hospital and the outright closure of much of the other. The hospital being effectively closed is sited in the poorest part of our borough where people live on average eight years less.

Carlo Nero quotes from - and derides - Council leaflet
So criticism where it's due - but I do wonder at how a campaign that is now avowedly anti Tory is planning on winning over a Tory Government. Maybe people power will be enough - they certainly pulled in the numbers on Saturday and petition sheets were full.

And that's what will be worrying the local Council more than the fate of hospitals.

The one or two Tory councillors who also attended the rally on Saturday, keeping their heads down, will have realised that this issue is likely to be a big one at the rapidly approaching local elections next year. So expect claim and counter claim to be pumped out at full volume between now and then.


  1. "So it's now a pretty anti Government and anti Tory"

    This is a big problem for the campaign. I am personally bored by the topic and this probably the first article I have read to the end. I have asked myself why as I know I should care more about our hospitals but this comment above confirms my suspicions of the real motivation of those on Lyric square. I am NOT voting Tory at the next election (or last) and I can't see my self voting for them or the Lib Dems in the future. But this campaign has always had an air of party politics more than of anyone really caring about the hospitals. It should have sought cross party support. But as it is, to support the campaign I have to fight an urge of cutting my nose off to spite my face by wishing the hospitals would close than having anything to do with this narrow-minded bunch of socialists. If there are others that feel the same then it's arguable that these people are actually helping the Tories in their cuts rather than hindering them.

  2. An announcement will apparently be made later today that A&E departments at four north-west London hospitals will close.

    I think that is great news.

    Concentration of blue-light emergencies at fewer hospitals should have been done ten years ago, at the time of Blair's expanding budgets. Even so, doing it now will still mean more lives will be saved, and there will be better clinical outcomes.

    Already, 500 Londoners survive strokes every year who previously would have died, due to specialist stroke hospitals, where patients are taken directly.

    The same specialisation in A&E is required, with larger, more experienced teams, and with consultants and diagnostic staff on site, 24 hours a day, even at weekends.

    What we need now is spending on the bigger A&E departments, the replacement urgent care hospitals, and - particularly, given the longer journeys involved - on the ambulance service.

    There is plenty of scope for Tory cuts there, so no reason not to campaign.

  3. Children's A&E was concentrated at Chelsea and Westminster long ago. No one seems to have complained much about that. Wouldn't it be a good idea to see what the experience has been with that before getting worked up about doing the same for adults?

    250 people doesn't sound like a lot to me, btw.