On Wednesday evening, 5th April 2017, representatives from political parties, trade unions, residents associations, and campaign groups gathered for a meeting in the Beecroft Gallery to discuss formulating an action plan to fight the proposed downgrading of Southend Hospital’s A&E department.
|Mike Fieldhouse outside Southend A&E|
Among those in attendance was Milton Labour Councillor Julian Ware-Lane. He said: “this was a good meeting, with many positive ideas thrown into the mix. A diminished healthcare provision is a real worry, and I know that this issue will affect many people.
“The local population have to be made aware of the implications of the changes being put forward by the Conservative Government. We must try to stop this.”
The plan to downgrade Southend’s A&E has been in the public domain for some time but local residents are only now beginning to wake up to the fact that, despite the promises made by the managers of our health service, we are going to lose our full 24 hour, blue-light, A&E facility at Southend hospital. Those gathered at the meeting agreed for the need to raise the profile of what is happening to healthcare in this corner of Essex.
Several campaign decisions were made at the meeting, and it was decided to launch a petition locally to press for Southend Borough Council to reject these plans - all residents will be encouraged to lobby their ward councillors by email or letter. Over the next few months, numerous street stalls are planned to pop up around the borough with volunteers collecting signatures and distributing leaflets about the cuts. A major event is also planning for a march through Southend town centre, culminating in a rally to demonstrate local people’s strength of feeling against these cuts to services.
To organise the campaign, and to help unite the various interested member organisations, it was further decided to join all forces under one umbrella by creating ‘Save Southend A&E’ - a non-partisan action group dedicated to keeping Southend’s A&E department open 24 hours a day to deal with all emergencies. Southend Against the Cuts and Southend Keep Our National Health Service Public are backing this new group.
Also at the meeting was Mike Fieldhouse, the Labour Party’s spokesman for Prittlewell Ward. Mike said: “I’m absolutely delighted that all these people and groups have joined forces - this shows the unity in the local community against these proposals.
“In reality, this is a matter of life or death, it’s something we have to take action on with the utmost urgency or our A&E department will be downgraded before we know what’s happened. I would urge anyone who cares about our NHS to join our campaign to save the A&E services at Southend hospital.”
View page 10 of this document for more details: Fight grows for Essex A&Es