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200 march against closure of Longton Cottage Hospital
Andy Bentley, Stoke Socialist Party
Longton Cottage Hospital workers and other NHS workers led a march from outside the hospital to the town centre on Saturday 11 July. Trade union flags and banners from Unison, Unite, PCS, GMB, CWU, North Staffs TUC, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Stoke Socialist Party made it a very colourful event.
As the march arrived at the bandstand in Bennett's Precinct for a rally, shop workers came out and joined shoppers to applaud the marchers and sign our petitions. Many stayed to listen to speaker after speaker laying into NHS bosses who are planning to get rid of all Longton Cottage beds and its eventual closure.
Stoke Socialist Party branch secretary Liat Norris, who was the compere at the rally, read out messages of support.
He said: "The most important thing for me was the numerous messages of solidarity from other unions and workers that we received, showing that the LCH workers aren't on their own in the struggle to save their hospital. They have the support of huge swathes of the community who will continue to come out and fight if these plans go ahead."
Representing TUSC, I made the point that local health bosses claim to want consultation over closing beds and Longton Cottage Hospital.
But we have already started our own real consultation and in just four weeks 4000 people have signed our petitions to keep all beds and the hospital open. It was working class people who fought to get the NHS, now we have to fight to save it.
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