‘The NHS is being failed’
Demonstrators gathered again over the last week to protest the proposed NHS merger of Basildon, Chelmsford and Southend hospitals and further planned government cuts to the health service.
Nearly two-hundred campaigners joined a rally in Chelmsford’s High Street on Saturday lunchtime. They were protesting against plans to cut a further £400m from the NHS budget in mid and south Essex over the next few years, and a proposal to merge Broomfield Hospital with those in Southend and Basildon.
The protesters were addressed by Councillor Stephen Robinson for the Lib-Dems, Clive Perrett for the Labour Party, and representatives of sister NHS campaigns in Basildon and Southend.
“Our NHS is not failing, but it is being failed by this government’s underfunding,” said Defend Our NHS Chelmsford campaign coordinator Andy Abbott. “We sent out a clear message on Saturday. No Cuts. No privatisation. No merger.”
“After seven years of cuts our NHS is already bleeding and on its knees,” Mr Abbott continued. “It will not survive further cuts via the government’s so called Sustainability & Transformation Partnership programme.”
Further protests were organised by Save Southend NHS who are planning on holding a regular presence outside Southend Hospital every Monday and Friday lunchtime to remind people to take part in the STP Public Consultation in local hospital services reorganisation and plans to cut NHS spending.
Jeremy Hunt visited Southend for the second time in a month – but not to chat with the public about the STP plans, nor to discuss public fears on the NHS crisis.
We believe Jeremy Hunt ‘chickened’ out twice from letting Southend’s residents question him about funding, staffing and possible privatisation of our precious public health service.
On Friday (February 16) supporters of Save Southend NHS themed their regular protest outside Southend hospital as a ‘Chicken Protest’ to highlight Jeremy Hunt’s evasive actions in failing to engage with local people.
Campaign secretary Mike Fieldhouse said: “Sir David Amess MP [Southend West] spoke out against last year’s plans to downgrade our A&E. “We sincerely hope Sir David will assist again in stopping critically ill patients from our area being shipped out to Basildon and Broomfield, effectively downgrading the town’s General Hospital.”