Andrew Lansley MP accused of being 'a liar' as demonstrators demand an end to hospital cuts and a halt to the controversial Lansley 'NHS privatisation' Bill currently going through Parliament
On Monday 11th October a dozen members of the Save Chase Farm Hospital campaign and the Defend Haringey's Health Services coalition ambushed Government Minister for the NHS, Andrew Lansley MP, at the North Middx Hospital on the Enfield/Haringey border. As Mr Lansley got out of his chauffeur-driven car and strode past them they proudly wielded placards saying 'OUR HOSPITALS - SAY NO TO CUTS', and handed out over 300 'Defend the NHS' leaflets to staff and patients. The highly popular leaflets condemned cuts at Chase Farm and called for the scrapping of the 'Lansley Bill' promoting privatisation of the NHS.
A number of staff spontaneously joined the protest, saying that they supported opposition to cuts and privatisation and complaining that staff had not been informed about the Minister's secret visit. The protests were highly embarrassing to the Government and featured on BBC news bulletins with Mr Lansley being accused of breaking promises made before the general election to halt the previous Government's threatened closures.
Mr Lansley is the architect of the highly controversial Health & Social Services Bill currently being pushed through Parliament and the House of Lords by the Government this week. It has faced massive opposition from all health professional organisations, trades unions and the public generally. It threatens to massively increase privatisation in the NHS at the same time as NHS services throughout North London (and across the UK) are suffering massive cuts due to Government underfunding.
The Minister was attending the North Middx Hospital to officially open the new buildings there. However, Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield has recently faced cuts to its Accident and Emergency department and maternity services, with patients being told to travel miles to the North Middx or Barnet General instead. Save Chase Farm campaigners have fought this for 10 years, holding 2 massive 5,000-strong demonstrations to the hospital and even getting 2 of their members elected as Enfield 'Save Chase Farm' Councillors. In early 2010 Haringey campaigners helped set up the the Save the Whittington Hospital Campaign which then organised a demonstration of 5,000 people to oppose similar threats to the Whittington Accident and Emergency department. Campaigners across North London have pledged to link up their campaigns to undermine the Government's 'divide and rule' tactics and oppose ALL cuts. As a result, before the general election in 2010 Mr Lansley had promised to halt the closures.
'The public must continue to make it crystal clear to all politicians that cuts, closures and privatisation of our health services are totally unacceptable and will never be forgiven. We are calling for opposition to the scandalous Lansley Bill to be stepped up.' Dave Morris, Haringey Federation of Residents Associations
Security guards had unsuccessfully tried to prevent the demonstration. To the shock of numerous staff and patients who were watching, the guards assaulted the Secretary of the Haringey Federation of Residents Associations, who had refused to be bullied into stopping leafletting. Three guards physically man-handled him off the site. Undeterred, he returned and carried on and the demonstrators held their ground. The guards were then questioned by police. Charges for assault are being considered. Thanks to the determination of the campaigners the hospital conceded their right to protest and whole incident only served to attract greater attention and support.
Links: Defend Haringey's Health Services coalition ¦ Save Chase Farm
- Published: 13 October 2011