Politicians and campaigners hold rally to protest against the closure of King George Hospital’s A&E
- Credit: Archant
MPs, council leaders and campaigners assembled at Redbridge Town Hall to protest against the planned closure of King George Hospital’s A&E department.
This came on a day of action which included a three hour march from Central Park in Dagenham all the way to Redbridge Town Hall.
“The NHS is always encouraging people to keep fit and active,” joked Ilford North MP Wes Streeting.
Speeches were also delivered by leader of Barking and Dagenham Council Darren Rodwell, leader of Redbridge Council Jas Athwal, Ilford South MP Mike Gapes and campaigner Andy Walker.
“Everyone knows the closure plan isn’t safe so let’s build an alternative plan that involves the public,” said Mr Streeting.
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Mr Rodwell added: “We will not stand by and let them destroy what is rightfully ours and what we have fought for.”
The speakers highlighted the area’s growing population as a reason to keep the department open.
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“I’m not sure how many times I have spoken at rallies in this hall,” said Mr Gapes.
“We have been fighting to save our hospital for ten years.”
Mr Athwal said the leaders of the councils in the areas affected by the possible closure were going to jointly write a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and personally deliver it to him.
Mr Streeting said demands on A&E departments have never been greater.
“The problem isn’t that people are walking into A&E, it is that they can’t get an appointment at the GP,” he said.
After the politicians spoke the floor was opened up to the dozens of campaigners who had come to Saturday’s rally, and hospital users and concerned residents gave impassioned speeches about the importance of the department.
“If it wasn’t for King George’s, I wouldn’t have got a proper diagnosis and I would still be suffering with illness I used to suffer with,” said one campaigner.
The rally was briefly hijacked by a personal trainer trying to advertise his services to the crowd of people concerned about the provision of healthcare, but his plug was drowned out by affronted campaigners.
The campaigners paid for the use of the hall using donations, and were collecting money at the rally to fund future protests.