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Hundreds took to the streets yesterday as they continue their fight to save Chase Farm Hospital's key services
Hundreds lined the streets in protest against the downgrade of Chase Farm Hospital. Photo taken by Scott Campbell
Hundreds lined the streets of Enfield in protest against the closure of key services at Chase Farm Hospital.
Campaigners’ struggle to stop the closure of the hospital's accident and emergency (A&E) and maternity wards saw them take to the streets for a fourth time, attracting crowds of more than 200.
Flags were waved and placards were hoisted as constant chants reflected the passion for the cause.
After starting at the war memorial in Windmill Hill and passing through the Enfield town, Church Street, Silver Street and Lancaster Road, the march ended at the hospital with a speech from Bill Rogers of North East London Council of Action (NELCA).
He said: “Despite the atrocious weather it was a good and lively march. We have been campaigning for more than six years to defend the key services at Chase Farm Hospital and as some of you know, we have been picketing outside the hospital for 450 consecutive days.
“We do not accept this decision and we need a lot more people to go in and occupy the hospital next month.”
Mr Rogers also called on trade unions to rally support for the protest and to defend the hospital against the downgrade.
He said: “We need the trade union leaders to rally to our defence. We need people to stand and fight.
“Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group ratified the closing strategy last month and one of the leading surgeons at the meeting refered to this hospital as a cottage hospital, which is not. They are trying to rubbish this hospital to justify its closure.”
The final nail in the services’ coffin appeared to be in place following a vote by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey clinical commissioning groups in favour of a downgrade.
However, Enfield Borough Council gave hope to protesters when it decided to take legal action against the decision, citing the lack of primary care facilities.
Council leader Cllr Doug Taylor accompanied the march and spoke of the legal proceedings that the council has taken.
He said: “We have had a consistent opposition as a council for the proposals at Chase Farm, to challenge legally is extremely difficult.
“Whatever happens in terms of our judicial review, we as a council will continue to monitor this hospital to ensure that the residents of the borough get the best possible healthcare they can.
“When the clinicians made this decision; the promises made by the secretary of state was that in local community there would be significant improvements to healthcare.
“We don’t believe those improvements have been made, we don’t support the downgrading here but if the clinicians were right and promises were made, they should have been kept.”
An occupation of the hospital and shorter protest will take place on November 14 on the eve of the maternity ward closure.
The Judicial Review hearing is scheduled for November 5 at the High Court.