'Let battle commence' Chase Farm Hospital campaigners prepare for final fight (From Enfield Independent)
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'Let battle commence' Chase Farm Hospital campaigners prepare for final fight
Following years of campaigning, protesters at Chase Farm Hospital are preparing to do battle once more as the decisions to close key services approaches.
Chase Farm Hospital in The Ridgway, Enfield, has had a dramatic recent history with decisions to close accident and emergency (A&E) and maternity wards being thrown back and forth without a definitive date being set.
The potential closure of these crucial services will now be decided at a committee meeting on September 25.
The plan is an attempt to concentrate all A&E services into Barnet and North Middlesex Hospitals as part of national policy towards primary care and financial position of the health economy.
However, protesters have been fighting for the hospital since 2005 and will not give up hope as activist John Field, 65, explains.
He said: “We have been picketing for 413 days in a row and we say bring it on. We are going to have a demonstration and we are calling on everybody to come out and march on that day.”
On Saturday, October 26, campaigners will march in Enfield Town centre, eventually concluding at the hospital.
Mr Field said: “We want to put the previous protest to shame. We are going to fight inside the trade union movement locally and nationally to gain support. Locally, the people of Enfield have shown it absolutely clearly to me that they’re opposed to this and there is no way they’re going to accept it. Let battle commence.”
The secretary of the North East London Council for Action, Bill Rogers, said: “They will pass the decision to downgrade through I am sure. But this is just the beginning of closures to vital services; 60 hospitals are planned to be shut down and this isn’t on. The primary care that was supposed to be delivered in Enfield hasn’t been achieved, there was also a population inaccuracy of 30 per cent at the last consultation.
“Chase Farm has been left to rack and ruin, hasn’t seen a lick of paint in a good 20 years. It is going to cost lives and it will be a crying shame to lose it. The neighbouring hospitals will be overloaded, we have already seen it.”
The “battle” has been bubbling away for nearly ten years with the first critical decision being made in November 2007 when health chiefs first took the decision to replace the A&E at Chase Farm with an urgent care centre operating 12-hours a day.
Promises during the 2010 general election by Prime Minister David Cameron and former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley that Chase Farm would not be downgraded were countered by GPs five months later when they backed the controversial change for consolidating emergency departments at Barnet and North Middlesex hospitals.
Enfield North MP Nick de Bois, an active supporter against the closure, said: “I am confident that our arguments for not downgrading Chase Farm are right but as Enfield GPs have now come out in favour of the changes, I am concerned that the Enfield Clinical Commissioning Croup, which now makes the final decision, will press ahead regardless. A cross party delegation is meeting with the CCG to try and persuade them not to go ahead.”
Enfield's Clinical Commissioning Group has declined to comment until the final decsion has been made on September 25.
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