On 16 March, thousands will demonstrate in North London in defence of Whittington Hospital.
Following a successful public meeting attended by 500 people, campaigners from the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition have been building for the march, which will begin at Highbury Corner and end at the hospital.
On 28 February, 150 campaigners demonstrated at a hospital board meeting, demanding the planned cuts and sell-off be scrapped. They marched through the hospital canteen and were cheered by health workers.
The Whittington Hospital board are seeking Foundation Trust status. In the past, Dr Koh, a board member, has suggested that the hospital could be taken over by another trust if it didn't take on FT status. However, the application is the motor behind the proposed cuts. It requires “savings” of £4.8 million. This will mean the loss of 580 jobs, including 220 nurses, the sale of a third of the hospital site and a reduction in beds. Hospital management have already sacked 22 medical secretaries who were given a week to apply for other jobs in the hospital.
Action in the workplace will be vital to defend the hospital.
So far the Unison branch have been supportive, donating £5,000 to the campaign. Reps have attended campaign meetings and spoken, but at present trade unionists are not articulating a strategy to oppose the sell-off.
Trade unionists at the hospital have spoken about bullying by managers, telling them not to get involved in the campaign.
A successful march followed by protests at board meetings will help to build the confidence of workers. The march assembles at Highbury Corner (Holloway Road side) at 11:30am.
Also on Saturday, the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign is organising a “hands around the hospital” event from 2pm.