Campaigners fighting to closure of two A&Es, two maternity units and one children’s ward in South West London staged a demonstration yesterday.
More than 200 people joined the protest against planned National Health Services (NHS) cuts, which started from the Norbiton Railway Station and ended in front of the Kingston Borough Council.
During the march protestors chanted “Who’s NHS? Our NHS!”, “Who’s hospitals, Our Hospitals!”, “No cutback, Fight-back!” and carried banners that criticising government for health cuts. Activists were mainly members of the Kingston Green Party, of the Kingston Socialist Party and GMB trade union.
Pensioners and pedestrians applauded the group while passing through Kingston Market Place.
The proposed cuts were advised by Better Services Better Value (BSBV), a review of NHS health services across South West London led by three local doctors and other health professionals to save £370m. This would be a 24 per cent cut to local health budget, each year by 2016/17. If BSBV’s plans are approved two hospitals out of St Helier, Epsom, Kingston University and Croydon University will lose their maternity and A&E units.
Andy Prendergast, Lead Officer for Public Services GMB Southern Region, said that cutting NHS services means that more people will eventually get sick and more of them will die.
Adam Lotun, Director of Workplace Disability Adjustments, said: “When David Cameron was making his manifesto, he said the NHS will be safe in his hands. Look how safe it is now.”
Carl Kimber, 75, Kingston Resident and pensioner said: “Clearly they want to save money. The danger all of this, the people who have been victimized are elderly people with poor conditions who need services but they don’t know what to do against these cuts.”
According to the BSBV program board: “The local services are neither clinically nor financially sustainable; so no change is not an option.” The board says that increasing demands on NHS staff due to a shortage of skilled health professionals and financial pressures force the local authorities to make necessary changes.
Dr Howard Freeman, Merton GP, said: “We have to be honest with local people about the challenges we face. The local NHS must change if we are to give patients the services they need in future.”
According to the BSBV’s website, the government spends £2.3bn on health services in South West London.