Anita Downs, a nurse at Lewisham Hospital, spoke at a big public meeting in Lewisham on 28 November, four days after the 15,000-strong demonstration against the threat to the hospital.
If the A&E [accident and emergency] closes, then the hospital as we know it will cease to exist.
Health workers, users and patient groups across the country will be watching the Lewisham campaign and taking hope and inspiration from it.
I want to raise with you tonight a question that has been raised with me dozens and dozens of times during the march and in the hospital: are petitions and meetings and marches enough to stop the Tories and Matthew Kershaw [the Trust Special Administrator put in after South London Healthcare Trust went bust because of its high PFI payments]? What else can we do?
We need to understand the nature of this attack.
The Tories are trying to sell us the idea that the cuts are “common sense”. There’s not enough money, so cuts have to be made.
There is enough money, more than enough. It’s just in the wrong hands.
And never mistake “common sense” for “good sense”. Good sense is a publicly owned and publicly accountable NHS. We should wholly reject Tory common sense.
But Cameron is picking up where Thatcher left off. And let’s not forget New Labour went further on PFI than the Tory John Major could have dreamt of.
My plea to everyone here tonight and everyone who supports our campaign is to plan and prepare to defend our hospital and services, like the Tories have planned and prepared to decimate them.
We have to harness the passion of our supporters and we have to plan and prepare for a battle that most likely cannot be won by marches and petitions alone. We have to do that in only a few months.
Each and every one of us needs to be talking and convincing our friends, neighbours, colleagues and fellow trade unionists to get involved.
In the hospital we need to get different sections of the staff talking to each other about what we can do. Joint trade union committees, workers’ action committees, need to be established.
There need to be a number of different strands to the united campaign that absolutely, resolutely refuses to accept closure in any form.
We have to do whatever is necessary to make this campaign victorious and leave a legacy not just for the people of Lewisham but for people all over the country. No to closure!