Thousands join hands to protect West Cornwall Hospital
Several thousand people met at St. John's Hall in Penzance, Cornwall at 11am this morning to join a demonstration against cuts to West Cornwall Hospital in the town. March organiser Alana Bates from Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance introduced Marna Blundy from West Cornwall Healthwatch and Andrew George MP who each made a short speech. The demonstration then marched up to the hospital and completely encircled it. At a signal from the organisers, everybody held hands, symbolically defending their hospital.
Estimates at the numbers involved ranged from 2000 to 5000, but whatever the true figure it was clearly a great demonstration of local people's concern at threats to the hospital. A ward containing half of all the medical beds at the hospital has been closed. The trust say it is just for the winter, but nurses at the hospital fear it will never re-open. There is also no doctor at night at the '24-hour' Casualty Department, meaning people have to travel to Treliske Hospital in Truro for treatment and, of course, families have much further to travel to visit relatives. One woman in her sixties had a fall in Penzance and was taken to Truro. She was discharged in the early hours of the morning and forced to take a taxi home. The cab driver dropped her at a cashpoint at 4:30 in the morning so she could get the cash to pay him.
Of course it is not just West Cornwall Hospital that is facing cuts. As a leaflet from Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance given out on the demo made clear,
"The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust has been forced to make £20 million ‘savings’ because of the Tory-led government’s agenda of cuts and austerity. Nationally, according to the Royal College of Nursing, 56,058 posts are to go across the UK. This figure is up over 50% since seven months ago. These are not just cuts to 'back office' posts, as some would have us believe. Out of 41 Trusts in England almost half, 49%, of post losses were 'clinical', with a third (34%) being nursing posts (see http://frontlinefirst.rcn.org.uk/2011-cuts-report for more details). The government wants ordinary people to pay for an economic crisis created by the bankers, multinational companies and politicians. The government needs to be stopped and they can be. If you agree with us, join us."
Hands Off Our Hospital are meeting at 6pm on Monday 5 December at the Ritz in Queen's Street in Penzance. Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance are meeting at 7pm on Monday 12 December at the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street, also in Penzance. All are welcome to attend and get involved.