SCIMC | 07.10.2007 18:39 | South Coast
PANIC has greeted calls for direct action by Sussex hospitals campaigners. The local newspaper has reported that "police are investigating" and a local Tory bigwig has condemned as 'dangerous' any show of public defiance at a crunch meeting on Monday October 15.
The commotion was caused by an anonymous leaflet distributed in Worthing entitled "Real democracy can save our hospitals" and calling for a "citizens' take-over" of the 7pm meeting at Worthing Pier.
Worthing Hospital is one of three in West Sussex threatened with downgrading under local health chiefs' ironically-labelled 'Fit for the Future' proposals.
The so-called consultation has proved a sham - residents have been locked out of meetings, key questions have gone unanswered and, of course, the obvious option of no cuts at any of the hospitals is not on the official agenda at all.
Although the local KWASH campaign has been fairly effective in holding A to B marches and the inevitable petition, it looks to be fighting a losing battle and to exist more as a pre-election vehicle for its Tory leadership than a genuine anti-cuts movement.
Murmurings of discontent in the ranks have led to the idea of stepping out of the cosy KWASH box and making it clear to the NHS money men how angry Worthing people really are at the threat to their health service.
The report in the Worthing Herald on October 4 was headed: "Police probe attempt to 'take over' meeting."
It stated: "Organisers of a major protest against hospital cuts have appealed for people not to support a plan to 'hikack' the next official event.
"Campaigners fighting to keep full, consultant-led services at Worthing and Southland say leaflets were circulated in Worthing at the weekend, encouraging people to disrupt the next major meeting, planned for Worthing on October 15.
"The unsigned leaflet invites people to invade the platform and take over the proceedings, so that a full, 'democratic' vote can take place. Police are investigating.
"Hospital campaigners want people to join a peaceful massed march before the 7pm meeting at Worthing's Pavilion Theatre, but have called on supporters to strongly reject any idea of invading the platform or disrupting the meeting.
"KWASH chairman Tom Wye said: 'This call to take over the platform is dangerous and unhelpful in the extreme. We can get the strength of feeling over without resorting to these kinds of tactics and I must stress that such action would do the cause great harm'."
The official KWASH march leaves from Homefield Park, Worthing, at 5.30pm. Other protesters are staging a mass cycle ride from Worthing station, at 5.45pm. Both protests end outside the meeting at the Pavilion Theare, Worthing Pier, which starts at 7pm.
Here is the full text of the leaflet
Real Democracy Can Save Our Hospitals
The so called consultation on the future of our local hospitals has been a complete and utter sham, as anyone who has been involved will have realized. And as it nears its end, we are left with the horrifying probability that it is going to spell the end of Worthing Hospital as we know it.
The West Sussex Primary Care Trust meeting at the Pavilion theatre on Monday, October 15 (7 - 9pm) is the last chance for the people of Worthing to make it totally clear that we will NOT accept the downgrading of any part of our local health service and that we reject the false ‘choice’ they are offering us, playing off one vital local hopsital against another.
We cannot afford to just sit back and watch the PCT’s Powerpoint propaganda and soothing words of reassurance, and then listen to them skirt around any tricky questions we are lucky enough to be allowed to ask. All that will happen is that they will go home, breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all over, tick the box marked 'public consultation' and then go ahead and rip the heart out of our hospitals.
If we are going to have an impact on this vital issue we are going to have to refuse to play their little game by the rules they have invented. We propose that we, the people of Worthing, should peacefully but fearlessly take over the running of the October 15 meeting as soon as possible into the proceedings and replace the hollow sham they have planned for us with a powerful expression of real democracy.
In particular, we must achieve the one thing the NHS bosses are too scared to allow - a vote of all those present as to whether they support the downgrading of any of our local hospitals. If this show of hands, in addition to all the petitions, protests, etc, proves the overwhelming opposition of local people to the misnamed 'Fit for the Future' proposals, it will confirm that there is NO LEGITIMACY to any decision to downgrade.
How is it that we are supposed to live in a democracy and yet even when we all clearly express our opposition to something planned by the authorities, they ignore us and still go ahead anyway?
We have to do something! Please do your bit on October 15 by getting to the meeting early and helping the attempt at a citizens’ take-over of the meeting, either by physically joining in, by blocking any move to stop it happening or simply by applauding and supporting those taking part.
PEOPLE POWER IS THE ONLY OPTION WE HAVE LEFT!