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Grantham on the march against 'life and death' cuts to health service
East Midlands Socialist Party members
The sudden closure of Grantham Hospital's night time A&E service has sparked a wave of anger and rebellion. Up to 3,000 people marched through the town centre on 3 September.
The overwhelming majority defied the route the police wanted the march to take (along backstreets and riverside), instead going straight down the high street. Drivers stuck in the crowds tooted their horns in support.
The Tories can have all the restrictions they want on the democratic right to protest, but the mass of people voted with their feet and no attempt was made to stop us.
Leaving the final rally outside the hospital, a police officer thanked us for coming. Police cuts, privatisation and the extra 26 miles they have to drive to get to Lincoln A&E mean they are sympathetic to this community campaign, as are firefighters. Socialist Party leaflets calling for a nationally coordinated campaign against NHS cuts flew out of our hands and copies of the Socialist were sold.
Labour councillor and long-time campaigner against attacks on Grantham Hospital, Charmaine Morgan, spoke exposing the false arguments of the hospital trust.
Gary Freeman, a member of Unison's health service group executive and Socialist Party member, also spoke. He linked these attacks to government policies and other cuts being made around the country. The sustainability and transformation plan is looking at over £1 billion of cuts by 2020 in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
Not everyone on the march agreed with our message. Tory MP Nick Boles and Tory councillors tried to argue the closure was "not political". They fear the backlash against their own policies, building now in Margaret Thatcher's birthplace and across the country.
The following day Boles called for a ban on doctors' strikes: "If a public service on which people rely for matters of life, death and wellbeing are going to behave unreasonably, there will be growing public concern we need more than ballot thresholds," he said.
Grantham voters will note that there has been no ballot at all on the 'unreasonable' cut to this 'life and death' service.
5 Jun Ken Douglas
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