The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

‘Huge demo’ promised over hospital sell-off as author urges campaigners to link up nationwide

    Chav author Owen Jones (left) and Frank Dobson

    Owen Jones (left), author of Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class, and MP Frank Dobson

    Published: 7 February, 2013
    by TOM FOOT

    A PUBLIC meeting planned for Tuesday night is going to be “more like a demo” following widespread outrage at the Whittington Hospital sell-off.

    Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition has called the meeting at Archway Methodist Hall. Speakers include campaigners, politicians, the hospital board and Chavs author Owen Jones, who told the New Journal yesterday (Wednesday) the scale of the changes had caused “justifiable fury in the community”.

    Mr Jones, who lives in Archway, added: “The pressure on the NHS is going to grow. At the same time local authorities are having to cut back on care services and people are relying more on hospitals like the Whittington.

    “The NHS is facing the biggest squeeze since the Second World War. Private companies are circling like vultures. I’d like to see the campaign link up with struggles across the country – like Lewisham.”

    The Methodist Hall – scene of mass demonstrations against the threatened A&E closure in 2010 – has a capacity of 200.

    But interest in the Whittington sell-off has been so great since it was first revealed in a London exclusive for the New Journal that the hall may not be big enough. More than 5,000 people have signed four petitions against the scheme and a recent march against health cuts in Lewisham drew 25,000 people.

    “This meeting is going to be huge,” Shirley Franklin, chairwoman of DWHC, told a packed public meeting at Camden Town Hall on Monday night. “People think it’s like a demo.”

    A march was also likely, she said. “Lewisham got 25,000 – we’ll get 35,000,” she added. “We’ll have a big march. But this needs to be part of a national campaign.”

    Speaking at the campaign meeting on Monday, she added: “Make no mistake, this is part of a massive attack on health. The hospital has said we are exaggerating all of this – but when they send us information we see that in fact it’s all worse than we thought.

    “They are doing this sell-off to get their books in order. It’s underfunded so they say: ‘OK, we’ll sell this stuff off.’ What they are basically doing is that they are moving from becoming a hospital to becoming a community resource. How can you have a hospital with 177 beds?”

    MP Frank Dobson warned of an “absolute avalanche of anti-NHS propaganda” following publicity over the Mid Staffordshire Hospital inquiry. He added: “We had a meeting with the CEO and vice-chair [of the Whittington] and they said we are one of the most successful hospitals in the country – and they are.

    “They said we are being criticised because we have more nurses per patient than most hospitals. Because they have been around quite a time they have a better pay than the average nurse. I said: ‘Do you think there is any connection between those two facts?’”

    From April, NHS funding decisions are being passed to a group of doctors called Camden Clinical Commissioning Group.

    Dr Lucia Grun, a GP at Keats Group Practice in Hampstead, told the meeting: “Patient voice is important. I would say: ‘Go out and join your group practice patient group.’ If you do that, it could have an effect on what the CCCG and your surgery does.”

    Candy Udwin, from Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said her group would be watching the CCCG and would oppose any private tendering of NHS contracts.

    • The meeting starts at 7.30pm on Tuesday night (February 12) For more information, see www.dwhc.org.uk

    >>NEW JOURNAL COMMENT (click here)

    >>Whittington bosses fear 'consequences' if plans are defeated by people power (click here)

    >> Consultants working for former car parts company used stopwatches to time staff (click here)

    Front page Whittington cartoon by Amy Smith

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