Demonstrators protested at the plans for the closure of Lewisham A&E and maternity units by joining hands around the hospital last Saturday.
The demonstration, organised by the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign started at Loampit Vale roundabout at 2pm and arrived at Lewisham hospital where everyone, “held hands around our hospital”.
Eastlondonlines live blogged the event.
[error]We are now wrapping up the live blog. Our reporters have left the site as protesters retreat from the rain. The latest estimation by Eve Turner from Save Our Hospitals Ealing puts the total number of people at 5000 . Over and out![/error]
4.12pm- Over and out!
Protesters are told to go home and “have a cup of hot tea” by organisers.
4.10pm- Dr Louise Irvine, GP in Lewisham speaks to Eastlondonlines:
“This is only just the beginning of our campaign. I’ve been going to Lewisham for 20 years and I know how much our residents depend on our hospital and it is an act of vandalism to destroy it.
“This is a fight to the death for our NHS!”
4.08- Eve Turner continues:
“We need to stand together because united we can defeat all the cuts they’re trying to make to our NHS!“Our NHS has never been under threat the way it is now and we need to fight and defend it!”
4.05pm- Eve Turner from Save Our Hospitals Ealing makes a speech
Confirming that thousands of people have attended the march, she calls the crowd “an inspiration”.
3.58pm- Speeches are now being made in Ladwell Park
A gospel choir is singing at the rally
3.39pm- Reports of confusion appear again as police get involved
@eastlondonlines One protester said that police are mis directing people to get them to disperse. Everyone seems confused as to where to go
— Heather Saul (@heatheranne9) November 24, 2012
3.37pm- A large family presence at the today’s demonstration:
3.35pm- Protesters gather outside the front entrance to the hospital:
3.30pm- Helen Lock, Eastlondonlines reporter, speaks to protesters on the march:
Alix Adams, retired, told Eastlondonlines:
I’m really impressed with the numbers today. I thought one in ten people who saw the leaflet would come, but I think more people have shown up. It’s a real community effort, especially in this weather.
Doctor Banaji, whose children were born in Lewisham Hospital said:
We used this A&E just two weeks ago and my son may well have died if we hadn’t have got to it.
3.20pm- A ring of protesters has now been made around the hospital
3.15pm- Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock is present at the march
Sir Steve Bullock speaking now – says he's never seen people this angry or this united! #SaveLewishamAE
— Clare (@clogsilk) November 24, 2012
Lol from Lewisham told Eastlondonlines:
We’re here because it’s such a busy emergency department, so many people use it. With 3 children, we are desperate for it to stay.
Jane from Lewisham said:
If you have a heart attack, you can’t just wait and go to Woolwich.
3.08pm- Confusion sets in as protesters attempt to organise themselves around the hospital:
A woman is telling protesters to move off the grass and get onto the street. If they don’t, she says they will close the hospital.
3.05pm- Heather Saul, Eastlondonlines reporter, estimates at least 1000 people have braved the rain to attend the protest:
Lots of people are now being coordinated and sent in different directions around the hospital, preparing to hold hands round the building. There are loads of families and children here. There must be 1000 people here, although I suspect there is a lot more.
As more protesters reach the hospital, families, workers and representatives from other hospitals are asked to line up outside the building.
2.53pmHospital workers are asked to go to the front of the protest as the Lewisham choir begins singing from the bandstand.
2.52pm- The first of the protesters reach the Hospital:
2.45pm- The head of the march moves on to Ladywell Fields
Daniel Paschoud, head of the Hospital Workers Group, tells the crowd: “I want you all to know that you are doing Lewisham proud.” His words are met with cheers.
According to Heather Saul, Eastlondonlines reporter, the demonstration has received a huge amount of support from people on the streets.
2.40pm- RUMOUR MILL Rumours on Twitter estimate that there are over 1000 people marching to Lewisham Hospital
2.38pm- Daniel Paschoud, a nurse at Lewisham A&E and chairman of the Hospital Workers Group is leading the march
2.33pm- The atmosphere is buzzing.
Protesters are met with cheers as they make their way down the high street.
2.30pm- There is a large family presence at the march. Whole family’s have turned out to support the cause.
Bernie Tweed, a union representative, is urging by-standers to join the march.
She said: “Join the que! You’re young, you’ll have children one day. You’ll need the hospital!”
2.24pm- Adapted chants from Wednesday’s demonstration:
“No ifs, no buts, no NHS cuts!”
According to Eastlondonlines reporter Heather Saul, chants heard at the NUS student demonstration on Wednesday can be heard as the march progresses down Lewisham high street.
2.16pm- Eastlondonlines talks to Stella Banin, a Transport for London employee:
Two of my three children were born in Lewisham, I’ve lived here my whole life. We can’t be expected to go all the way to Bexley Heath if we need Accident and Emergency. At the end of the day we need this, it’s so important to the community. Between here and Bexley Heath someone could die. It’s like they’re saying that the people of Lewisham aren’t important enough.
2.14- We’re off!
The march is heading down Lewisham high street.
2.05pmPolice have said approximately 100 officers have been deployed for today. They are expecting a very peaceful protest and are here mainly for traffic management.
2.00pm- Hundreds of protesters are now in position ready to begin the march
1.55pm- Save Lewisham A&E:
Save Lewisham Hospital!! twitter.com/SaveLewishamAE…
— SaveLewishamA&E (@SaveLewishamAE) November 24, 2012
1.49pm- Lewisham UNISON show their support:
1.38pm- Eastlondonlines speaks to Helen O’Connor, a nurse from Moorgate:
She said: “Its very very dangerous shutting the A&E. Nurses don’t take strike action lightly . We must defend patients.”
1.33pm- There is already at least 100 people at Loampit Vale roundabout ready to start the march