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Hospital protesters take to the streets

PUBLISHED: 14:53 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:26 25 August 2010

MORE than 2,000 people took to the streets to show the strength of feeling against proposed hospital cuts.

MORE than 2,000 people took to the streets to show the strength of feeling against proposed hospital cuts.

Patients, hospital staff, residents and politicians marched side by side last Saturday morning protesting against proposed service cuts at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup.

Police closed Main Road, Sidcup, as the throng of protesters marched from the Harvester Pub to the hospital in Frognal Avenue.

A petition, with 8,500 signatures, was then handed to a representative of A Picture of Health who are currently holding a consultation into the proposals to close A&E and maternity services in Sidcup and Lewisham.

Sidcup councillor, Aileen Beckwith, said: "I am hoping they will listen. What else can you do? We live in a democracy."

Pensioner George Hopper, 74, from Sidcup, said: "Queen Mary's shouldn't be looking to reduce services.

"They are playing with people's lives. All they are looking at is money. Out of the four hospitals it is the cleanest. They have really turned their act around."

Craig Brown, 34, from Blackfen, said: "My little boy, who is five-months-old, had an infection when he was born and he was in the neo-natal unit for weeks. We were lucky - because of the unit. The proposals are terrible. We thought we should do something."

Teaching assistant Alison Fisher, 54, from Sidcup, said: "To reduce these services is madness. I felt that I had to do something about it.

"They have lost some consultants at Queen Mary's and they have not replaced them. People have been left in limbo, both patients and staff."

A midwife at Princes Royal Univeristy Hospital, in Bromley, who did not want to be named, said: "I am here because I am livid.

"I am worried because we don't have the capacity at the Princess Royal. They have just spent a lot of money only last year on a midwifery-led unit at Queen Mary's so what is the point of spending all that money?

"I just don't understand the thinking. We just feel they are not looking at how it is.

"The journey from here to the Princess Royal can take an hour-and-a-half.

"The maternity unit at the Princess Royal is very stretched at the moment. It is very stressful. It is continuous. It is day, night, every day, because of the workload.

"There is no way they can expand out. There will still be the same number of staff.

"We would just have to manage. Because of the debt, there is no way we can employ more people. It is just an impossible situation."

A spokesperson for a Picture of Health said: "The petition we received will be considered as a formal part of the consultation."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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