Threat of oc­cu­pa­tion

MP backs fight to save Eal­ing ma­ter­nity unit

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Danya Bazaraa danya.bazaraa@trin­i­tymir­

JOHN McDon­nell is back­ing hard­line an­ti­cuts protesters who are plan­ning an ‘oc­cu­pa­tion’ of Eal­ing Hos­pi­tal.

The Hayes & Har­ling­ton Labour MP pledged his sup­port to The West Lon­don Coun­cil of Ac­tion which is fiercely op­posed to NHS plans to close the ma­ter­nity unit at the hos­pi­tal.

At a meet­ing on Tues­day last week at­tended by Mr McDon­nell the cam­paign­ers out­lined plans to march on the hos­pi­tal to­day (June 24) and oc­cupy the ma­ter­nity wing ‘for as long as it takes’ un­til the Gov­ern­ment backs down.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing Mr McDon­nell said: “The com­mu­nity up un­til now have been su­perb. We have ar­gued and protested and it has not worked.

“If oc­cu­pa­tion is the only way we can pro­tect our ser­vices then so be it.

“If peo­ple are will­ing to stand up, oc­cupy and take di­rect ac­tion we should of­fer them sup­port and sol­i­dar­ity. That’s why I’m here to of­fer sol­i­dar­ity in the com­ing months.”

The coun­cil of ac­tion is a branch of The Work­ers Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party in Eal­ing, and mem­bers say their fight to save ma­ter­nity ser­vice has “gone be­yond protests and pe­ti­tions” to the point where phys­i­cal ac­tion is re­quired.

Spokesman Davie Wilt­shire told the Gazette’s sis­ter pa­per in Eal­ing: “They [the Gov­ern­ment] are not hang­ing around and they are not go­ing to be per­suaded by marches- we have gone through that.

“It’s a real at­tack on the com­mu­nity and quite frankly, the time for talk­ing has fin­ished.”

He ar­gued that an oc­cu­pa­tion of the hos­pi­tal would not be illegal as long as protesters did not in­ter­fere with ser­vices.

He added: “We are in for a fight for as long as it takes to win, no mat­ter how long. We will or­gan­ise ro­tas 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year if it takes that long, but we do not think it will.

“The strug­gle to de­fend Eal­ing Hos­pi­tal has too many friends.”

Scott Dore from the Work­ers Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party, added: “When they an­nounced dates for clo­sure, did they con­sider the po­si­tion women are go­ing to be in? Do they ex­pect them to give birth in the street or at home?

“We are not go­ing to ac­cept this clo­sure, we are go­ing to stay there un­til the ma­ter­nity unit is kept open.”

The clo­sure has been pro­posed as part of a re­struc­ture of west Lon­don NHS ser­vices un­der the Shap­ing a Health­ier Fu­ture pro­gramme.

A spokes­woman for the NHS ac­knowl­edged cam­paign­ers’ right to peace­ful protest but warned that any oc­cu­pa­tion of Eal­ing Hos­pi­tal would be “dan­ger­ous and un­fair” for pa­tients and staff.

She said an­te­na­tal and post­na­tal care will still be pro­vided in Eal­ing bor­ough, but ma­ter­nity would be con­sol­i­dated to six hos­pi­tals in North West Lon­don with greater ac­cess to se­nior con­sul­tants and more mid­wives.

Protesters were due to be­gin their march at 11am to­day.

n SUP­PORT: Hayes and Har­ling­ton MP John McDon­nell speak­ing at a meet­ing of the West Lon­don Coun­cil of Ac­tion

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