NHS Birthday Brings Campaigners Out In Force

Health campaigners tell their stories

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Last Chance to Have Say on Ealing Hospital Changes

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Meena Toor looks at events over the weekend and views from three campaigners on how they will be affected by the proposed NHS changes.

Last Friday (5th July) saw the celebration of the 65th birthday of the NHS.

The GMB vintage ambulance invasion in Whitehall – dubbed the ‘nhs fly-by’ – attracted attention and provided a photo opportunity for MPs and city professionals.

Meanwhile hundreds joined together outside the threatened Ealing Hospital, enjoying cake and song..

On Saturday, supporters spoke to shoppers at Ealing Broadway to spread the message about the independent review - encouraging people to send in their feedback.

Of the stories on the day, Melanie Rodirgues, 33, a BBC producer and resident of West Ealing immediately took a feedback form and began writing.

[image copyright Meena Toor]

She has a severe peanut allergy and explained why Ealing's local services are vital for her: ''I’ve lived near hospitals for most of my life, crucially because I suffer from anaphylactic shock. When I have a reaction, I have a very short countdown of 20 minutes and need to get to treatment.
I carry with me an EpiPen, but if that doesn’t work, my throat closes and I suffocate.

“I live next door to Ealing Hospital and I’m two minutes away if I need it. The new proposals will mean that I’ll be an hour away.

''Ealing Hospital is vitally important and gives you peace of mind. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone – it’s only going to be when you really need it, that you’ll realise.''

Patrick Cogan, former policeman for 30 years remarks on the changes:

“All the cuts that are happening to the police service are very typical of all the public services. There’s a great deal of demoralisation.”

He lives locally and worries what the effect on neighbouring hospitals will be for patients and medical staff:

“I live around here. I don’t want to go to Northwick Park. I don’t want to go to West Middlesex... it’s a huge catchment area so the queues might be very long.''

Biologist Arthur Breens, 69, thinks that the reorganisation of health care shifts away from the ethos of keeping the NHS a free public service to a privatised system:

“There’s big bucks in healthcare. It’s the one area that people won’t stop spending money. If you were going to die, you’d hand over all of your savings.”

He volunteered in Sierra Leone between 1969 and 1971, and recalls that at the time, newborns had the highest death rate. Originating from England and using the NHS, he immediately saw in Sierra Leone the difference having heath care can make:

''It was a very difficult climate. Poor resources, poor healthcare. If I was born in Sierra Leone, I would have died before I was five. Whereas in England, I survived.''

Residents concerned about plans to downgrade local hospital services are being urged to express their views to the panel ordered by the government to carry out an independent review.

The Save Our Hospitals campaign will hold its next public meeting on Thursday 11 July, Queen’s Hall, Ealing Town Hall between 7-9pm.

Meena Toor