Dr Onkar Sahota GP, Labour London Assembly member for Ealing & Hillingdon
Dr Onkar Sahota GP, Labour London Assembly member for Ealing & Hillingdon, writes exclusively for the Gazette.
I will march on Friday (15 September) with thousands of local residents and campaigners who are battling to keep our local hospitals open.
The Save Our Hospitals Ealing (SOHE) campaign is taking the fight to the Prime Minister, to protect against North West London NHS’s proposal to close the A&E departments at Ealing, Hammersmith, Charing Cross and Central Middlesex hospitals.
We are facing unprecedented cuts to the provision of our health care in north-west London. These cuts will affect us all, either directly as patients or indirectly as friends or family of people using these valued services. The loss of A&E departments at four hospitals, out of nine, in our area will put a tremendous amount of strain on the remaining A&E departments, which are already stretched.
We are campaigning with all the Boroughs in North West London because we all will be affected and depend on each other. We all need to stand together to defend our National Health Service – not only its services but also the values.
The SOHE campaign has benefited right from the start from being a cross-party movement. What’s been apparent is how the NHS touches all of our lives in different ways. This is not about politics, but about ensuring that we are preserving the NHS
as an institution to pass on to the next generation, as our parents and grandparents did for us.
And now our campaign is even more vital. Last week’s Cabinet Reshuffle saw the Prime Minister appoint a man opposed to a national health service as the new Health Secretary. In 2009, the newly appointed Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, revealed
his true feelings about this treasured institution, stating that he believes the NHS is a “60-year-old mistake”, and called for it to be dismantled. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
As a nation, we are proud of our National Health Service, as was shown by making it a central part of the Olympic opening ceremony – a unique opportunity to showcase the very best of our country. A poll earlier this year showed that the NHS is what 37 per cent of Brits are most proud of about this country, and rightly so.
The NHS was born at a time of incredible hardship and austerity and was a lifeline for people who couldn’t afford to pay for their healthcare. We don’t want to go back to those dark days, however much the coalition government continues to try to push us that way.
Tomorrow, we want to show the Prime Minister, the Health Secretary and NHS North West London how important our local hospitals are to us. We want to keep what’s ours, our communities and in the future, our children’s.
We start to assemble at 10.00 am in Southall Park so that the march can leave promptly at 11.00 am, going past Ealing Hospital to a rally at Ealing Common. A march will also start in Acton which will join the rally on the same day. To find out
more about the route and to sign the petition go to http://saveourhospitals.org.uk/. Together, we must preserve and protect the NHS for our future. I hope to see you there!