About 500 people attended a meeting to save Epsom Hospital last night.
Members of the Better Services Better Value cuts body presented their “case for change” to local residents, who angrily rejected them. BSBV is recommending that two A&Es and two maternity units should be closed in South West London – and has suggested children’s services should follow.
From start to finish, the BSBV panel attempted to lie to audience – saying that no decision had yet been made, even though it is fairly clear that Epsom will be lined up to lose vital departments, and saying that this was “not about cuts”, despite the 24% cut to the local hospitals budget which is driving these closures. Their argument that closing vital services would actually improve local health care was completely transparent to the audience.
Hypocritically, the meeting was called by Chris Grayling, the local Conservative MP in Epsom. Grayling campaigned at the general election on the basis that the Tory party would make no cuts to the NHS, then sat round the cabinet table as a government minister and approved massive cuts and closures across London’s NHS. Now he’s got the gall to go back to his constituency and attempt to wash his hands of his crimes by making phony protestation against the closure of services at his constituents’ local hospital.
One member of the Save Our Hospitals campaign spoke from the floor, before having the microphone torn out of his hand by Conservative MP Paul Beresford, who was chairing the meeting: “I think Chris Grayling has got a particularly despicable role in this. He sits round the cabinet table agreeing NHS cuts and is coming back to his constituency and saying ‘don’t cut services to Epsom Hospital’. This is a political meeting. They are his decisions.”
Instead of attempting to defend his record over the NHS – which includes suggesting the privatisation of Epsom Hospital – Grayling choose to denounce the campaigners as “political troublemakers” and “left-wing activists”.
Grayling’s pathetic attempts to marginalise people who want to stop all cuts, closures and privatisations in our NHS are a sign – the government is very worried about carrying through its brutal attacks on the NHS, and huge outbursts of anger, on the scale of the Lewisham A&E demonstration that saw 30,000 people march against health cuts, are inevitable.
We need to build a united campaign across Surrey and South West London that overcomes attempts to play one area off against another and fights against privatisation of our National Health Service. The first step is on Saturday 16th February, when we march together in Kingston against all NHS cuts in South West London. Make sure you join the demonstration!
Kingston Save Our Hospitals march and demonstration
Saturday 16th February 2013
Assemble 12 noon @ Norbiton Station, Coombe Road West KT2 7AZ