A protest against the planned closure of Lewisham accident and emergency and maternity ward drew thousands despite the rain reports Haroun Lazim
A lively cross-section of south London society burst onto the streets of Lewisham on Saturday to demand that the A&E and maternity ward not be axed. Although the campaign was largely initiated by NHS workers, the ten to fifteen thousand people that marched down the high street and poured into Ladywell Fields to link arms around the A&E department were mostly residents of Lewisham, as well as Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley. Many were born in the hospital.
As we made our way to the buildings that serve around 750,000 people in the area, and is ranked in the top 40 in the country, most of the passing drivers honked repeatedly. At one point even a police car honked!
The rally kicked off with the hospital choir, followed by chanting led by a 6-year-old. Speakers were clear in their rejection of the claims that the hospital is failing made by Matthew Kershaw's report, which recommends selling off around two thirds of it. Most importantly, all were very clear that the NHS as a whole is not for sale. Jackie Davis, a radiologist and executive member of the National Health Action party, flipped that vacuous phrase the Big Society on it's head by claiming that the demonstration truly represented the Big Society. And to great applause she redirected the words of Blackadder originally aimed at Baldrick - “There's just one tiny flaw in your plan, Mr. Cameron: it's complete bollocks.”
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