Up to 25,000 people marched through Lewisham to protest against the planned closure of Lewisham A&E. Nick Ferrari from LBC and Heidi Alexander amongst other gave speeches at the end of the march in Mountsfield Park. Among the protesters were Eastlondonlines reporters who have been reporting live from the day as it progressed.
We are now closing the live-blog. Thank you for following us.
Reporter Alan Dymock speaks to Joseph Smart. He had lived by the park for 44 years. His wife died in the hospital, his son was born there and he has had three operations there.
It makes no sense to deny us.
Dr Louise Irvine is addressing the audience:
Thank you so much for your resolve. Lets hope Hunt will listen and good luck for the first of Feb.
Remy, who is an Olympic drummer, addresses the crowd.
She says: This is the same kind of spirit that the Olympics was part of. In the Olympics we supported each other through our strengths and weaknesses and that is what is happening now.
Everyone is in good spirits despite the cold weather. Music is being played all over the park including raps about the cuts.
Reporter Lautel Okhio speaks with Joan Andrews who is a teacher:
I work for the hospital in children’s department as a teacher. I teach children who are short term and long term stay. If these cuts happen it will have a devastating impact on Lewisham. So many people in the community work at the hospital so this really will have a devastating impact. I’m here not here as an employee, I’m her as a member of the community. I was born in Lewisham, I have always taught in Lewisham and lived here. Joan Andrews
Reporter Lautel Okhio speaks with a healthcare assistant:
It is very organized, thousands turned up. It’s madness I can’t see this actually going ahead. We got goosebumps when we walked past the hospital. We feel so proud and we really hope that after today Hunt won’t put these recommendations through.
Reporter Alan Dymock finds Millwall mascot Zampa the lion with Andrea Warth and Lucy Pepper from the Millwall Press Office. They say it was an easy decision to back the Save Lewisham A&E campaign. The players use the A&E and some were even born there.
Reporter Siobhan Lockhart tweets a photo of a child protester
Protesters sign a 100ft long petition.
Sara Carver, a matron in the A&E, addresses the crowd:
If my 9 year old son can see what a mistake is being made, then it should be crystal clear to grown men
Transport for London report that Lewisham High Street is now fully open again.
Reporter Helen Lock has arrived Mountsfield Park with the back of the crowd. She says it has a carnival atmosphere.
Lewisham Cafes show support for march.
Save Lewisham A&E tweets a photo showing the crowd stretch back.
Sophie Robinson Tillett reports that Dr John O’Donohue has estimated a turnout of 20-25 thousand in a speech he is making to the crowd assembled in Mountsfield Park.
It looks like we’re going to have 20-25 thousand people here today. This is now a national issue. It’s a test case.
Heather Saul reports that Jeremy Hunt is depicted as a “rat” in one sideshow game in Mountsfield Park.
Reporter Alan Dymock speaks to a mid-wife who doesn’t want to give her name. She has been midwife and nurse for 30 years is delighted people can get behind this, as she feels it is the first step of many in an agenda- to close hospitals. She fears it is the first of many.
The protesters have now arrived in Mountsfield Park. Heather Saul reports that there is a really nice atmosphere despite the mud. There are plenty of stalls selling food and coffee as well as trade union stands.
More music as Lautel Okhio reports that the crowd are singing a version of the “Dad’s Army” theme tune.
Music at the protest.
Helen Lock tweets about protesting pets.
Vicky and Mark tell Heather Saul about why Lewisham Hospital is so important to them.
They are identical twins and they were born at Lewisham. I had to go to hospital a lot when I was pregnant. Twins are a high risk pregnancy. Afterwards I had to go in a lot as well it’s really important that it’s close by. They want to keep just a midwife team there, but there’s so many high risk births here. You need to be where doctors and expertise is. Things could happen and you need to be close. it was very reassuring being ten minutes away from the hospital.
Siobhan Lockhart reports of solidarity for Lewisham Hospital from Unions in Hackney.
Sophie Robinson Tillett reports that transport is being disrupted by unexpected volume of protesters. Bus diversions were laid out badly, leading to two buses with passengers on them to be stranded. People think there are more protesters than last time.
She also reports that some of the chanting protesters and members of the Occupy movement have called for occupations of hospitals under threat.
Siobhan Lockhart reports that the Goldsmiths feeder march is merging with the main protest.
Reporter Alan Dymock reports from Lewisham High Street:
1-2-3-4-5, keep our NHS alive” sings out ion Lewisham high street as the March peacefully snakes past the fire station. Heidi Alexander takes time out to survey revellers, while vuvuzekas, whistles and carhorns fill the air. Even firemen are hanging out the windows to watch.
Reporter Sophie Robinson-Tillett reports from the start of the march:
They are chanting “save lewisham hospital, save the a and e”. It looks set to be a huge demonstration. People are pouring onto Lewisham High Street in their thousands.
Siobhan Lockhart reports that Goldsmiths feeder march has reached Central Lewisham to join the main march.
Reporter Lautel Okhio sends this photo from near the Police Station
Helen Lock reports that a steward told her: “We’re struggling to find places for everyone”
More good photos abound on the Twittersphere
Siobhan Lockhart reports that Goldsmith’s March just went past Brockley Market on Lewisham Way where people cane out with signs to show support
Save Lewisham A&E have tweeted a photo.
Heather Saul interviews Nash from the Socialist Workers Party:
What they can do to stop this happening is occupy it. If these guys are gonna really push forward to stop it closing they should occupy. I think Hunt will put recommendations through, not even us people can stop them. But we say occupy, the NHS ha belonged to the people from 1948, we run the health service and the jobs, and if this happens there will be a lot of job losses. The fire brigade union are also her supporting us. It’s a corrupt system.
Protesters are lining Lewisham High Street. Reporter Heather Saul says “there are thousands here”
Heather Saul speaks to a Unison rep at the beginning of the main protest:
“We believe that some of these recommendations are logical, other are appallingly illogical. There’s a population in this area of 750,000 people who will be expected to use one A&E. And the A&E they intend to use is in the back of beyond. We’re hoping that Hunt will reconsider these recommendations: no one knows how it will work out, they thought PFI would work out and look at how that ended up”
Heather Saul tweets from the start of the main protest:
Protesters about to start marching from Goldsmiths
Reporter Siobhan Lockhart speaks to two Goldsmiths University student union officers at the Goldsmiths feeder march.
Ahead of the protest, organiser Jos Bell has released the following statement:
Over the past few weeks, the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign has gathered an
After weeks of intelligent and dedicated campaigning, rather than sitting down by
the winter fireside to wait to hear what the fate of the our highly valued, Top 40
hospital will be, Saturday, 26th January marks the day when the people of Lewisham
and SE London, accompanied by friends from far and wide, will be putting on our
winter warmers and converging on the centre of Lewisham in a large scale show of
support for Lewisham Hospital and the NHS.
In just a few short weeks we have been able to consolidate the sense of outrage
that emerged in response to the Kershaw proposals to demolish 60% of our newly
refurbished hospital – a highly valued emergency resource, which sits at the core
of our community, and saves lives on a daily basis. Far from being expendable, our
hospital is providing A&E, maternity, ICU and paediatric services which cannot be
met by other surrounding hospitals.
Now we know that the Kershaw Plan does not even make financial sense – the
plans showing immediate financial loss and overall cost of £1.093 billion with
a 30 year projected loss of £450million to the South East London healthcare
In order to make our collective voice as clear as possible – Saturday 26th marks the
landmark event of our March and Rally.
Fresh from bringing forward their match and co-operating with a music video, Millwall FC are tweeting their supporters to the protest.
Beautiful day for a march.
View Save Lewisham A&E march January 26 2013 in a larger map