Representatives from residents associations, political parties, trade unions and campaign groups came together at a meeting on Tuesday evening in the Beecroft gallery to discuss formulating an action plan to oppose the proposed downgrading of Southend Hospital’s A&E department. As a result they have all joined forces under one umbrella to create ‘Save Southend A&E’ – a non-partisan action group dedicated to keeping Southend’s A&E department open 24 hours a day to deal with all emergencies.
I attended the meeting as the Labour Party’s spokesman for Prittlewell. It was extremely encouraging to see all these people and groups joining forces – it really shows the unity in the local community against these proposals.
The plans to downgrade Southend’s A&E have been public for some time now but local residents are just beginning to wake up to the fact that, despite what we’ve been told by managers of our health service, we are now facing the loss of full 24 hr, blue-light, A&E facilities at Southend hospital. I would urge anyone who cares about our NHS to join our campaign to save the A&E services at Southend hospital.
We had a very productive meeting tonight, generating many ideas. For a start we will be launching a petition locally to press for Southend Borough Council to reject these plans and we’re also encouraging residents to lobby their ward councillors by email or letter (please see my previous blog post on how to automatically fine & email your own 3 councillors). Street stalls will be springing up around the borough over the next few months with volunteers collecting signatures and distributing leaflets about the cuts. We are also planning to have a march through the town – probably towards the end of May, culminating in a rally to demonstrate local people’s strength of feeling against these cuts to services – this really is a matter of life or death, it’s something we have to take action on with the utmost urgency or our A&E department will be downgraded before we know what’s happened.
Keep up to date with the latest developments both on my blog here and on ‘Save Southend A&E‘ Facebook page.