HUNDREDS of local people packed Ealing Town Hall on Wednesday 15th February to defend Ealing Hospital from threatened cuts in the Government’s latest five-year plan – Shaping a Healthier Future and Sustainability (SaHF) and Transformation Plan (STP). The hall was so full that many had to be turned away from the meeting.
The campaign group Save Our Hospitals previously claimed that the plans mean that 600 hospital beds will be lost with the closure of Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals.
The NHS has denied these hospitals will close but they are scheduled to be seriously reduced, losing Accident and Emergency (A&E) units and relegated to local hospital status – a step along the road to complete closure at a future date. Ealing has already lost its maternity and paediatric units.
SaHF plans have also seen the closure of Central Middlesex and Hammersmith A&Es
Eve Turner, secretary of Ealing Save Our NHS, who spoke at the meeting, told the press after the meeting: “It’s beyond belief that even as they are sending people home early from overcrowded hospitals, the local health bosses are still defending their plans to cut hundreds of beds along with over 7,750 NHS staff, and reduce A&E capacity by 64,000.
“But they have money for private spin doctors and management consultants – they paid one firm over £30 million to advise them on cuts. People are getting angrier all the time and I don’t blame them.”
She called on people to get involved in campaigned and support the national demonstration on 4th March.
Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, which organised the meeting, and Steve Cowan from Hammersmith and Fulham Council, said that they were refusing to support plans to cut even more beds and the A&Es in Ealing and Charing Cross Hospital. Cllr Bell claimed it would be the equivalent of a city the size of Leeds being left with no A&E.
Another speaker at the meeting was Ealing Liberal Democrats Cllr Jon Ball, who said: “NHS chiefs deny they will close Ealing Hospital but a hospital without an A&E, that performs no surgery and with no overnight beds, is not a hospital. Ealing deserves a real hospital not a glorified polyclinic.”
Dr Onkar Sahota, a Greater London Authority member and GP also spoke at the meeting.
Meanwhile Kelly Ward, a single mother of two boys living in Ealing, has launched a petition to save her local Greenbrook GP surgery from planned closure.
More than 2,500 patients will have to find a new GP unless the surgery can be saved from being shut down.
Kelly Ward said: "There are a lot of angry patients. I've been with Greenbrook since they were relocated into Brentford Health Centre many years ago.
"Without the love and support my doctors have given me and my family over the years, I wouldn't know where we would be.
"As a small surgery it works well, we don't need to wait weeks for appointments, maybe the inspiration of Greenbrook will open the eyes to the NHS and not do this; all you will cause is misery and upset."