Tag Archives: Charing Cross Hospital

The Independent Healthcare Commission’s Report: public meeting

Last night I attended a public meeting called by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to report on the findings of the Independent Healthcare Commission, which was chaired by Michael Mansfield QC.  The main findings were reported in the mainstream media in December and now it was the public’s chance to hear about the findings. It was a well-attended meeting with many people standing, and an overflow room had been made available for those who couldn’t squeeze into the limited space in the Town Hall’s small hall.

The meeting was chaired by Cllr. Vivienne Lukey, the cabinet member for health and adult social care. Her opposite number, Conservative councillor, Andrew Brown, was also present in the audience. I had been told that Brown was a doctor, but it turns out that he didn’t qualify and, in the middle of his training, transferred to the BSc Medical Sciences with Management course at Imperial College instead. He currently owns and runs a, guess what? A PR company that specialises in communications in the healthcare sector.

Council Leader, Stephen Cowan, was first to address the audience. He told us that his life had been saved by the NHS at least five times during his childhood and for this, he would always be grateful to them. Cowan also remarked on how upon taking office, he was finally able to see the confidential papers relating to local hospital closures, which confirmed his worst suspicions. During the 2014 Local Government elections, the local Tories claimed that Labour and the Save Our Hospitals campaign was “scaremongering”. They have been rudely exposed as liars. Brown was silent.

Cowan also claimed that Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF), a group established to provide public relations for the cuts, has literally spent billions churning out propaganda and little else. SaHF’s website trumpets what it calls “joined up care” and announces “7 day services”, which itself hinges on Jeremy Hunt’s tissue of lies about the NHS not having a 7 day service. Cowan also warned the government that the council wouldn’t hesitate to take them to court and a Judicial Review would be the possible next step. Brown said nothing.

After Cllr Cowan’s address, a film was screened that outlined the findings of the Independent Healthcare Commission was screened. Brown was unmoved.

Dr. Stephen Hirst, a former GP and a health commissioner explained how all the hospitals in which he’d worked had all closed. He then went on to claim that SaHF affects areas of high deprivation more than other areas and any attempt to define Urgent Care Centres, such as that proposed for the Charing Cross Hospital site, was difficult. As for the proposal to move most of Charing Cross’s functions to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, he asked “Why can’t St Mary’s move to Ealing”? Ealing Hospital’s maternity unit and Accident and Emergency department has recently been closed. Brown offered no response.

Next to speak was Dr. John Lister, who told us the commission took written depositions from both sides. However, the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) saw fit only to provide witnesses after the elections. The commission also sought a meeting with NHS England but its Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, was being obstructive. Stevens, according to his Wikipedia entry is former Labour councillor on Lambeth Council. But that wasn’t all: the business case for closures was constantly delayed and it seemed to me that NHS England was dragging its feet because it has something to hide. Lister, who was witty and humorous in his assessment, also added that the commission recommended that the closed A&Es be reopened. “How many nurses do you have to sack to save £75 million”, he demanded to know. Brown stood there impassively.

It struck me that, once again, the government and its lackeys were manipulating statistics to make some rather boastful and dishonest claims. It was also clear that the CCGs were not standing up for patients or the needs of hospitals and were solely concerned with cost-cutting. This is ironic given the amount of money being spent on management consultants and PR companies like Saatchi.  Dr. Lister concluded that “Urgent Care Centres have a place as long as they’re alongside A&Es”. Brown said nothing and fiddled with his phone.

Save Our Hospitals (SOH) chairman, Patrick Barron gave an emotional and passionate speech, telling the room that “They’re trying to shaft the community”. He reminded us of the junior doctor’s strike and how the government has ended the nursing bursaries, which begs the question: how do we attract more people into nursing? Surely, the possibility of a crippling debt is enough to deter anyone from entering the profession? Barron said that Northwick Park Hospital couldn’t cope with the sheer volume of patients who had been displaced by the closure of A&Es elsewhere in North West London. However, when Barron claimed that SOH helped to get Labour into power in the borough and repeated the earlier claim made by Cllr Cowan regarding the Tories lying over hospital closures,. Cllr Brown finally felt emboldened enough to speak. “It’s not true”, he interjected. The Cat thinks that Brown’s sense of entitlement compelled him to interrupt Patrick Barron, because he was neither a doctor, nor a councillor, nor a person of the same class as Cllr Brown. A typical Tory bully.

The Q&A session began with Dr. Sean Morris, a junior doctor who explained the situation on the ground. Brown looked uncomfortable (he was asked to give up his seat to someone who was less mobile and was standing) but interested. Dr. Morris told the audience how he had worked in four local hospitals and that the review was not “clinician-led”. He also told us how, on more than one occasion, he’d worked 56 hours straight. The last strike by junior doctors was 40 years ago, yet the Tory government has cast the British Medical Association as a militant trade union in the mould of the National Union of Mineworkers. How’s that for melodrama?

Speaker after speaker gave their views, one of whom reminded us of the European Union’s working time directive, which will no doubt be scrapped if Britain leaves the EU. A former SOH chair, Merril Hammer, was pleased that Cllr Cowan had indicated the possibility of a judicial review and asked what the council was doing with regards to challenging the business case adding “Save Our Hospitals is not going away”! Cowan said that he’d met with a QC about the case and said “the last thing we want to do is sue the government” but “if we have to, we will”. He then reminded us that £35 million had already been spent on management consultants. A shocking waste of money that could have been spent on the NHS instead.

Local MP, Andy Slaughter arrived late after voting against the government’s welfare bill and further cuts to disability payments. He reminds us of the Tories’ “black propaganda” when they were running the council. There isn’t a peep from Brown. However, Dr. Hirst assured us that the review is not party political and says that “no one knows his politics”. This is issue “isn’t about Labour or Conservative” he claims. Brown nods.

Actress, Vanessa Redgrave, whom I’d last seen at a production of Ibsen’s Little Eyolf nearly 10 years ago at the now demolished Riverside Studios, spoke passionately about how the NHS saved her life and said “what the government is doing to junior doctors is illegal”. Interestingly, she reminded us that if all else fails, there was always the option of taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Jim Grealy also of SOH wanted to know where the team goes from this point on. Finally Dr Sandhu told a harrowing story about what he had to deal with over the Christmas period, while working at Ealing Hospital. He finishes by telling us how expensive MRI scanners that have been installed at The Shard, which is visible from the hospital. A private healthcare company having taken over three floors of the building in November 2013. It was obscene. “The Shard” he tells us “sticks out like a knife” cutting out the heart of the NHS. It’s a potent mental image to be sure.

The meeting was encouraging but it’s clear that there’s a great deal of work to do. The struggle goes on!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, London, NHS

H&F Tories: Still Bitter After Seven Months

Hammersmith and Fulham’s Tories are still crying over their defeat seven months after May’s local elections. The Cat has noticed that, with little to complain about, they’ve resorted to accusing the Labour administration of not doing enough about litter on the borough’s streets.

I stumbled across the rather neutral-sounding Hammersmith and Fulham Forum the other day and wasn’t surprised to discover it was run by the local Tories. This blog claims:

Many residents have noticed how the streets are less clean in Hammersmith and Fulham since Labour took control in May.

“Many”? How many, exactly? It doesn’t say. If H&F Tories are complaining that the new Labour administration isn’t taking litter seriously, may I remind them that they didn’t do much with regards to litter either – in spite of their claims to the contrary. On many occasions I saw lots of litter blowing about on Queen Caroline Street as well as dumped rubbish on Fulham Palace Road while they were in power. It seems to me that these Tories haven’t really got much to complain about and are looking for any excuse, no matter how feeble, to ingratiate themselves to the borough’s residents, most of whom voted them out. Here’s another Phibbs special titled “Devenport Road under Socialism”. “Socialism”? Really? You’re taking the piss, pal.

I used to live in Devonport Road, in Shepherd’s Bush, and one of the motivations I had for standing for the council in 2006 was the filthy state of the streets when Labour were running the council.

I thought you were motivated by power and prestige, so don’t try and fool us, Phoghorn.

The hard won improvements during the eight years that the Conservatives did not come about by accident. Nor did they involve increased spending.

Hilarious.

The Conservatives may be in opposition but we will not be passive. We are planning a programme of “Grotspotting” throughout the borough to demand that Serco honour their contract. Councillors will be encouraging those involved in  residents associations and “community activists” to help with this task.

You’re kidding me. This is all you have? Christ, these people are desperate. Phoghorn has even coined a stupid wee word too. “Grotspotting”. It’s all about the message and cute soundbites. As for real ideas, you won’t get those from a bunch of no mark, chinless wonders who regard council flats as “vertical slums”.

In another blog, which begs the question “Is the council consulting you on planning applications”, they claim… well, Phoghorn Phibbs claims:

If we are to have new buildings in our borough that make it more beautiful rather than more ugly then it is important for as many residents as possible to make their views known.

Is that why your party approved the Fulham Reach development? Is this why your party wanted to build skyscrapers all over the borough and destroy a third of Furnival Gardens to build a bridge from the Town Hall to the Thames? The Phoghorn conveniently forgets how his party rode roughshod over residents’ concerns when they approved the building of luxury apartment blocks around Hammersmith and sold off council properties to their developer chums. Yet here’s Phoghorn telling us that the council should consult residents over planning applications. The powerful stench of hypocrisy emanates from his every word.

By the way, H&F Tories are still claiming that A&E services will remain at Charing Cross Hospital in spite of the fact that Imperial NHS Trust intends to demolish the hospital and sell off the site to developers. 

Meanwhile, former councillor Andrew Johnson tweeted:

Labour’s housing proposals represent a grave threat to future of council housing in H&F Stock transfer not the answer, improved service is.

3 Comments

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Labour, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

A Borough Of Opportunity? Only For Developers, Tories And Other Parasites

Tory-controlled Hammersmith and Fulham’s slogan is the “Borough of Opportunity”. It’s a slogan that’s proclaimed from lamp post banners in the borough to its new glossy magazine. But it’s gloriously misleading. Hammersmith and Fulham is a borough of opportunity but only for property developers. Anyone who lives in Hammersmith and Fulham will have noticed the number of building projects popping up around the borough. It’s a boom time – and I mean that most sincerely, folks – in Hammersmith and Fulham. Interestingly, all of these developments are in Hammersmith and White City, while in Fulham and other leafier parts of the borough not a single tower crane is anywhere to be seen. Is this a coincidence? I don’t know. You tell me.

I’ve taken a tour of the borough and photographed many of the current developments and those that have just been completed. Many of us in Hammersmith already know of the fabulous structure on 10 Hammersmith Grove that faces onto Beadon Road. Look at those lines! Look at its shininess! Shame its upper floors are completely empty.

12 Hammersmith Grove. Built for Pernod-Ricard, who decided to move to Chiswick park

10 Hammersmith Grove. Built for Pernod-Ricard, who then decided to move to Chiswick Park instead

10 Hammersmith Grove was built with the intention of housing the offices of Pernod-Ricard, but they had other ideas and decided to move to the ever-expanding Chiswick Park instead.  The ground floor is occupied by a couple of posh eateries. Fancy an artisan burger? How much dosh have you got to splash out on one?

The ground floor units with uberposh Byrons Burgers and Bill's café kind of place thing...

The ground floor units with uberposh Byrons Burgers and Bill’s café kind of place thing…

Do you fancy living in a former multi-story car park next to the District and Piccadilly Lines and the moderately busy Glenthorne Road? Well, now you can. Here’s the sales office for St George’s rather posh-sounding Sovereign Court development.  Stupid name if you ask me. Flats here will set you back upwards of £950k. The question is: where are shoppers going to park their cars? The council has no answer to this and other questions.

It's a former car park, you divvy.

It’s a former car park, you divvy.

You see that crane in the background? Well, here it is again just above this empty office block on Glenthorne Road. This is a pretty big site.

Empty office block on Glenthorne Road being prepared for redevelopment

Empty office block on Glenthorne Road being prepared for demolition

This office block on Lyric Square once had loads of occupants when I first moved here, but I’ve no idea what happened to them. As far as I can make out, it’s been mostly empty for a few years.

The Capital One building being prepared for redevelopment.

The One Building still looking for tenants. Will it be next on the demolition list?

The Hammersmith Palais was a legendary music venue and former dance hall that was immortalised in the The Clash’s White Man In The Hammersmith Palais.  Here it is before it was demolished.

Within a year of the Tories taking control of the Council in 2006, it was announced that the Palais would be demolished and replaced with expensive student accommodation. In the distance there’s another development next to the Laurie Arms pub. This is what stands on the site of the Palais.

Le Hammersmith Palais est non plus

Le Hammersmith Palais est non plus

This isn’t a new development, rather it’s a curious development. This is Mackenzie Trench House, a 60s council block on Lillie Road  that’s been “acquired” by Cherwell, a property development company. It’s going to be demolished to make way for a “part 4 / 6 storey building of 30 flats (Class C3) comprising 5 x one bed, 20 x two bed and 5 x three bed; Excavation to provide basement car park for 14 cars with vehicular access from Purcell Crescent and associated landscaping”, according to the Council’s website. Of course it is entirely possible that the residents of MacKenzie Trench House were leaseholders and they were ‘made an offer they couldn’t refuse’, rather than being lowly tenants… and we all know how H&F Tories feel about council housing and council tenants.

McKenzie Trench House will be bulldozed

McKenzie Trench House will be bulldozed

I’ve already tweeted about the Fulham Reach or, should I say, the Fulham-out-of-the-Reach-of-ordinary-people Development. Here it is in all its monstrous glory. IMG-20140411-00071 IMG-20140411-00072And don’t you dare go near the jetty. That’s for landing crooked Russian oligarchs, Singaporean gambling moguls and bloodthirsty Bahraini princelings who have come to gaze upon their assets.

IMG-20140411-00073The sales office for this monstrosity, well, looks a little like the sales office for Sovereign Court (you’re still serious about that name? excuse me while I split my sides). It’s a brand, you see. St George are part of the Berkeley Group of companies and many of those companies have saints’ names.  Don’t ask me why. St Edward, for example,  has built a huge swanky development on the former site of Charles House, a local tax office on Kensington Road. Behind Charles House there once was a wonderful little pub that sold Everard’s Ales.  It was called the Radnor Arms and I may be wrong, but it was the only Everard’s pub in London. It is no more.

Hammersmith and Fulham-20140411-00074

More student accommodation, this time sandwiched between John Betts Primary School and a council block on Dalling Road. This is a Balfour Beatty development. Balfour Beatty is the company that was implicated in the Potters Bar rail crash along with Network Rail. The company is also member of the Conservative Property Forum.

Hounslow-20140514-00085

New planning laws make it easier for companies like Balfour Beatty and St George to influence local planning decisions (the Tories refer to this as “cutting red tape”). In Hammersmith and Fulham, these companies have a sympathetic Tory council that is more than willing to please them. According to the Government website, the new planning ‘reforms’ are supposed to give communities a say in local planning decisions. What we actually tend to find is that developers and councils alike use a great deal of PR muscle in an attempt to win over people. In some cases, such as the ongoing Earl’s Court gentrification plan, the Council or PR company in question will use all the tricks in the property playbook, including the manipulation of statistical data, rigged surveys and so forth, to produce ‘reports’ that appear to suggest a consensus.

If the Tories win the council election next week, Charing Cross Hospital will disappear and will be replaced with luxury flats and a GP’s surgery.  There will be no A&E. You’ll have to travel miles through heavy traffic to get to one. Anyone who knows Fulham Palace Road will tell you that the traffic is often bumper-to-bumper from the Lillie Road junction to the one-way system.

Charing Cross Hospital has the country's leading stroke unit.

Charing Cross Hospital has the country’s leading stroke unit.

The Tories have also been making noises about demolishing the Queen Caroline Estate. Yet, when anyone suggests that the issue of social class plays a part in their ‘thinking’, boy do they howl with indignation. But this is what we’re witnessing in Hammersmith and Fulham: a class war that is being waged by powerful interests, aided and abetted by the Tories, against the working class, the low-waged and the vulnerable.  They can tell you that the idea of social class is “outdated” but they would be liars, because they are the biggest class warriors of all and they will fight tirelessly for the interests of their class.

Vote out the Tories next week.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

Nightmare On King Street (Part 21)

The three Tory candidates for the Fulham Reach ward chose a rather bizarre, if not revealing, location for their photo-shoot. The location? The Hammersmith Cemetery, which is conveniently located behind Charing Cross Hospital.

FR-crop-508x1024

 

Clearly, no thought went into their choice of location.  That’s the Tories for you. They don’t think. Kick them out on 22 May.

Hat tip to Crispin Flintoff.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

Nightmare On King Street (Part 20)

Last week’s BBC Question Time was recorded at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, a stone’s throw away from a massive development at Fulham Reach. I will be writing a blog on that development and the others that are springing up around the borough in due course.

Billy Bragg was on the Question Time panel and mentioned how the Charing Cross Hospital site was being earmarked for redevelopment when it closes. The Tories have always denied this.

This morning, however, Phoghorn Phibbs let the cat out of the bag in this Twitter exchange with Billy Bragg.

Phibbs phucks up

 

You read it here first: Charing Cross Hospital will be demolished to make way for luxury flats.

Cllr Peter Graham, who works for lobbying firm,  Four Communications, whose clients include the Berkeley Group (parent company of St George) told me that “three blocks of flats” were already there. When I told him those were nurse’s homes, he claimed that [medical] students lived there (fair enough) as well as “others”. However, he wouldn’t clarify what he meant by “others”. Do you ever get the feeling you’re being lied to?

Graham, whose ward includes Charing Cross Hospital, also spoke in favour of the Fulham Reach development.

Peter Graham

Coincidence?

Next month use your vote wisely. Kick the Tories out.

2 Comments

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

Nightmare On King Street (Part 19)

 

I’ve just had a load of Tory election literature shoved through my letter box. The Tories don’t knock on doors and talk to anyone. They know better. They know that no one on my estate wants to talk to them. But I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to take down their feeble arguments. I wanted to grill them on the lack of decent, affordable rented accommodation in the borough.  I wanted to grill them on the question of Sulivan School and the proposed demolition of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates. I wanted to ask them why they supported the closure of Charing Cross Hospital, while at the same time denying it. I wanted to ask them about their stealth taxes. But they’re like kids who knock on the door and run away. They’re so damned quick: when you open your door to give them a piece of your mind, they’re half way down the street, sticking two fingers up to you.

H&F Conservatives Mr. Grim Reaper

Hammersmith & Fulham’s Tories took great offence to this image. Good.

One of the bits of paper shoved through my door was a letter. This letter has the words “IMPORTANT UPDATE ON CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL”. This is not so much an update as it is a lie that’s been painted in large dayglo blue letters. “Obviously there will be major changes” the letter tells me. Yes, the changes that were forced upon Charing Cross Hospital by the Tory-led coalition involve demolishing the hospital and handing the site over to private developers like St George, who will then build luxury flats for foreign investors. In the letter the Tories have said nothing about the lack of beds and the loss of the stroke unit – the same stroke unit that saved Andrew Marr’s life. The borough’s Tories support the government. Why wouldn’t they?

The letter then goes on to say “Whether you agree or disagree with these NHS plans, they aren’t something that local councillors can change. H&F council has no powers over the NHS, nor does it own the land”. Well, that simply isn’t true and the subtext of this statement is “we don’t care”. Campaigners saved Lewisham Hospital from closure. We can do the same with Charing Cross Hospital. The word ‘defeat’ is absent from our lexicon.

The letter also claims the local Labour Party is “scaremongering”. It goes on to accuse Labour of “desperation” adding “Labour can’t win the Council Elections by talking about what the Council actually does”.  Like what? Selling off land to developers? Charging residents for training in the borough’s parks? Increased charges for its leisure facilities? Their letter talks of “cleaner streets”. Really? Where? It talks about “more and better schools”. What about Sulivan School which the Council wants to close and sell to an independent school? Funny how the letter doesn’t mention that. It boasts about “affordable homes to buy”. What does “affordable” actually mean? Yes, these homes will be “affordable” but only for those whose economic capital is provided by daddy’s trust fund or a rentier’s income. What about homes to rent? This Council is actually reviving the disastrous Right to Buy scheme, which caused the housing crisis in the first place. It actually wants to sell off and demolish its council housing because it doesn’t like the people who live in their properties. They don’t come from the right social class, you see. They don’t have names like Jocasta, Jemima, Rupert and Nigel.

In the eight years that they’ve been running the Council, the Tories have shown time and again that, in spite of their slogan “Residents First”, they are only interested in putting the interests of their rich mates first. When the Tories assumed control of the Council, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader, wanted to create a borough that attracted the rich. In order to “attract the rich”, he and his fellow Tories had to expel the poor and those on low incomes. This is called gerrymandering and if you look at the numbers of units at Fulham Reach for example, there isn’t a single property in that development that is available for those on low incomes to rent. The people who will live in those properties will doubtlessly vote Tory.

So, Azi Ahmed, Jackie Borland and Jamie McKittrick, I won’t be voting for you. And I’ll also tell you this: I’m not interested in council candidates who only work for themselves and in the interests of their rich chums. That pretty much excludes your party.

Kick out the Tories! Use your vote wisely.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, London

Save Our Hospitals!

Ealing-20130427-00023

Yesterday, I went on the march and rally to save hospitals in West London. For those of you living outside of West London, Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Central Westminster and Ealing Hospitals, are to have their Accident and Emergency departments closed under the government’s plans to destroy streamline the NHS.  All emergency treatment will then be provided by Northwick Park, West Middlesex and Chelsea and Westminster hospitals. For those of us who live in Hammersmith and Fulham or Ealing, these A&E units are too far away and anyone needing emergency care could find themselves dying en route to one of these hospitals.

In the last few months, I’ve used Charing Cross A&E department: once for a badly burned hand and last week, for chest pains…. which turned out to be a muscular-skeletal problem. If that A&E department were to close, I would have to spend an hour getting from my home to the nearest hospital.

Here in Hammersmith and Fulham, the ruling Tory group supported the resident’s campaign and cross-party opposition to the closures. As was reported on this blog and Stephen Cowan’s blog, the Tories later back-peddled and signed off the government’s proposed closure of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals.

Cllr Cowan says,

It turned out that there has been a considerable amount of disquiet amongst local Conservatives about attacking their own government’s policy of hospital cuts. Many had never wanted to join the residents-led campaign in the first place. When the government offered them a cop out they took it and figured they could use council funds to blanket the Borough with propaganda spinning what they had done.

They have so far spent over £20,000.00 of tax payers’ money telling residents that they have “Saved Charing Cross Hospital.” Nobody who has studied the facts or heard their explanations believes that’s true. In fact, in the panic of trying to explain themselves last week, one Conservative councillor admitted nothing had been finalised and nothing yet agreed – underlining how the Conservatives have undermined their negotiating position.

Hammersmith & Fulham Tories have shot themselves in the foot over this issue and have exposed themselves as hypocrites.

The Hammersmith and Fulham side of the march started at Acton Park. I took my bike with me since it is quicker to get to the park by cycling than to take the 266 bus. I arrived in time to hear Andy Slaughter speak.

Ealing-20130427-00019 There are at least 300 people assembled here. The march starts and we walk down Uxbridge Road towards Acton. I’ve put my bike in the lowest gear and I’m riding very, very slowly at the sort of speed that is alien to London’s legion of bad cyclists. One of the march stewards even compliments me on my control skills. Loads of motorists beep their horns in solidarity as they pass us on the other side of the road.

We arrive at Ealing Common. There’s a funfair.  It’s not a great day for fun fairs. The chilly, damp weather has done its best to dampen our spirits but it hasn’t succeeded. We’re here to let our voices be heard. There are more people here than at the dismal Rally Against Debt a couple of years ago. And you know what? You never see anyone from UKIP or any other so-called libertarians at these rallies and do you know why? They don’t care.

I look towards north-westwards and I can see a the Ealing contingent making its way towards us, there must be around 1,000 of them. I can see the banners of the local Labour, Green and Socialist Party branches. The Socialist Workers Party, Left Unity and even the Workers Revolutionary Party are here too. There’s even someone selling the WRP’s paper, Newsline. I haven’t seen that for awhile.

Bob Marley’s song Get Up, Stand Up is blaring from the speakers. It’s an inspired choice. “Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up. Don’t give up the fight”!

This woman’s placard (below) says it all.

Ealing-20130427-00024

One of the leading campaigners from Ealing, Dr Onkar Sahota, who is also an AM for the Greater London Authority, has the task of being MC for the afternoon. Ealing, unlike Hammersmith and Fulham, is a Labour-controlled council and has resisted the government’s plans. Sahota tells us that many people from neighbouring boroughs of Hillingdon, Harrow and Brent are here making their voices heard.  Indeed, this is a good turn-out. I can see Ealing’s MP Stephen Pound waiting in the wings, when he does come up to the mike, he comes across as something of a showman (he used to be a boxer). The crowd loves it.

Pound is followed by Tory MP, Angie Bray, who is greeted with a mix of boos and applause. She leaves to the same mix of boos and applause. A woman standing next to me complains and tells those who are heckling Bray to shut up. They’re not listening to her remonstrations and she walks off in a huff.

One speaker from the GMB union reminds us that the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt authored a book in which he calls for the NHS  to be denationalised, but erroneously attributes the words “60 year old mistake” to him. These were, in fact, the words of Lyin’ King when he appeared on Fox News five years ago to lambast the NHS and argue for his coveted small state. Nonetheless the sentiment is the same. In spite of his warm words and vacant expression, Hunt does not like the NHS and like many of his fellow Tories, he wants to cut it to pieces and sell-off the profitable parts to his vulture capitalist friends. Andy Slaughter reminds the rally that under the council’s proposals, 60% of Charing Cross Hospital site will be sold off to private developers. The Tories, despite what they’ve said about ‘saving’ the hospital, have done nothing of the sort.

Dr Thomas Sissons, writing in The Independent in February says,

Hammersmith and Fulham council is the only council out of 11 in London affected by the hospital closures to have supported them, and this is a damning reflection of their interest in what those they govern think. They are stitching up their own constituents, metaphorically but certainly not literally, so that they can play nice with central government. Their decision to release these plans before the official date may have given us some unwitting help though by allowing us some time to organise. What we need to do now is campaign against this ham-fisted reorganisation.

A Lib Dem councillor comes on to speak and at that point, I decide to leave. The Lib Dems have done much to support this Conservative-led government in achieving its ambitions, none of which appeared in their manifesto and for which they have no mandate. A man next to me says, “I don’t want to listen to the Lib Dem, they helped the Tories to do this”. I agree with him, get on my bike and ride home.

The next Save our Hospitals event is a rally at Jubilee Gardens (where I once lamented the passing of the GLC) on 18 May at 1200. If you care about hospital provision in London, you’ll be there. I know I will.

You can find out more about the campaign here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Conservative Party, Cuts, Government & politics, NHS, Public spending