Posts Tagged ‘A&E’

Nakba, NHS, Gitmo etc & Tamils

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

NakNakba, NHS, Gitmo etc & Tamils – Saturday 18th May 2013 was another busy day for protests in London and I covered a number of demonstrations.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when the state of Israel was created, Palestinians and their supporters protested outside parliament calling for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

There had been protests in Jerusalem earlier in the week on Nabka Day against the continuing sanctions against Palestinians that have crowded them into an ever-decreasing area of land, diminishing almost daily as new Israeli settlements are created and new restrictions placed on the movement of Palestinians. Many of those protesting in London from Jewish or Palestinian backgrounds and as usual these included a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who had walked down from North London; they see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism.

The speeches were continuing when I left to cover another event. More at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

On the opposite side of the River Thames thousands were gathering by the Royal Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, alarmed at the attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

Nine years later we are seeing the effect of these policies with ambulance services unable to cope with demand, lengthy delays in treating people in A&E, delays in diagnosing cancers leading to increased deaths and more. And although it was only a matter of time before we had a pandemic like Covid, and exercises had shown what needed to be done to prepare for this, the NHS had not been given the resources to prepare for this, leading to much higher death rates than some comparable countries.

Part of the problems of the NHS come from disastrous PFI agreements pushed through under the Labour government, landing NHS trusts with huge debts that will continue for many years. This forced NHS trusts into disastrous hospital closure plans, some of which were defeated by huge public campaigns. Many of those marching were those involved in these campaigns at Lewisham, Ealing, Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Central Middlesex, Whittington and other hospitals around London.

I left the march as it entered Whitehall for a rally there. More at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Other protesters outside the US Embassy included Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when they held him and was now being tortured by the Iraqis and also was on hunger strike. She has protested with her daughter Zeinab outside the US Embassy for a number of weekends and on this occasion was joined by a small group of Muslims who had come to protest against Guantanamo, appalled by the actions of the US waging a war against Islam and Muslims.

Shawki Ahmed Omar is still held in Iraq; before he died in 2021 former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark recorded a video calling for his release which was posted to YouTube in with the comment by another US lawyer “This case is one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in recent United States history. It is a case where the US government essentially lied to the US Supreme Court to cover up torture and to be able to turn an American citizen over to people who they knew would torture him.”

A few yards away, kept separate by police, a group of supporters of the Syrian regime, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was also holding a protest in favour of the Assad regime and against western intervention in Syria.

More at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

I met thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK as they marched through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre, many dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. Many wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Although it was a large protest, with perhaps around 5,000 marchers I think it received absolutely no coverage in UK media, and I seemed to be the only non-Tamil photographer present. Tamils were rightly disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax.

The march had started from Hyde Park, and I caught up with it on Piccadilly and went with it taking photographs to Waterloo Place where there was to be a rally. But it had been a long day for me and I left just before this started.

More at Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


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A Threatened Hospital, Riverside Walk, Syria & Mali

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

A Threatened Hospital, Riverside Walk, Syria & Mali – pictures from nine years ago on February 15th 2013.

Fight to Save Lewisham Hospital Continues

My work began at a lunchtime rally opposite Lewisham Hospital where the whole local community is fighting to save their hospital with both a legal challenge and further mass demonstrations including a ‘Born in Lewisham Hospital’ protest a few weeks later. Parts of the hospital across the main road are in the picture.

People were appalled by then Health Minister Jeremy Hunt’s decision to accept the proposals for closure, and to ignore the mass protests by local residents. Not only are the proposals medically unsound and will lead to patient deaths, but they also represent short-term thinking that will result in a huge waste of public funds.

Lewisham was a sucessful and financially sound hospital and had received sensible public investment to provide up to date services, and the services to be cut will have to be set up again at other hospitals. Closing Lewisham would not only incur high costs, but would waste the previous investment in its facilities.

Closure was only considered because of huge debts inherited when it was merged into a group which had earlier made a disastrous PFI (private finance initiative) agreement to build a new hospital a few miles away. Both the hospital group and Jeremy Hunt had been shown to be telling lies about the scope and cost of the replacement A&E and maternity facilities which would be needed if Lewisham were closed.

The well-attended protest was organised by the Save the Lewisham Hospital campaign which was raising funds for a legal challenge as well as a new poster and leaflet campaign and the forthcoming mass demonstration. But this was not just a campaign for Lewisham, but one that is vital for the whole of the NHS. Behind the speakers was a banner for the South-East London ‘Save Our Local NHS Hospitals’ campaign quoting Nye Bevan: ‘The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.‘ They certainly had the faith in Lewisham.

Fight to Save Lewisham Hospital Continues


Thames Path Greenwich Partly Open

Here’s what I wrote back in 2013:

I had some time to spare between protests and it was a nice day, around 10 degrees warmer than we’d been having and sunny, so I decided to take a bus to North Greenwich and walk along the Thames Path, having heard that parts of it had re-opened. The weather changed a little and there were some dramatic skies.

There is still a section of the walk that is closed, a giant building site where Delta Wharf once was up to Drawdock Road, but on each side of this the walk is open. although the council sign on the footpath leading from Tunnel Avenue still indicates it is closed. At the river the path north is blocked, but you can walk south to Greenwich.

A panorama – the same path in opposite directions at both sides

At first the walk goes alongside a giant manmade landscape of sand and gravel, like some alien planet – and behind the conical hills the Dome and the gas holder, with occasional lighting towers and cranes add to the scene. Most of this is behind tall fences, but fortunately these have gaps between the posts allowing you to see and photograph. Years ago the path here went through a working container dock, the Victoria Deep Water Terminal, with yellow lines marking the route, though occasionally it was blocked by crane operations, and we waited rather than have heavy containers overhead. There are a couple of my pictures of this and others from the riverside path in the 1980s on my London’s Industrial Heritage site.

Beyond there the riverside path seems rather empty, with many structures having dissappeared, including the huge concrete silo I photographed. But something new has appeared, ‘guerilla knitting’ on some of the trees and posts along the path.

Many more pictures at Thames Path Greenwich Partly Open on My London Dairy


Stop Western Intervention in Syria & Mali

It was the 10th anniversary of the march by 2 million against the Iraq war, Stop the War organised a small protest at Downing St calling for a stop to Western intervention in Mali and Syria and against the possible attack on Iran.

Many on the left feel that the failure of that huge protest to actually prevent the UK taking part in the invasion of Iraq showed a failure in the leadership of Stop The War to make any quick and efffective action to follow it up. Stop The War have also failed to convince the public at large with their more recent campaigns against intervention in Libya and now against the support being given to the Free Syrians and the Mali government. As the upper picture shows there were some supporters of the Assad regime, from a small left group, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), taking part in the protest. Almost certainly the great majority of supporters of Stop The War while against UK military intervention would like to see more support being given in other ways to the Syrian rebels.

Stop Western Intervention in Syria & Mali


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Nine years ago: 6 Oct 2012

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Proposals to close Accident and Emergency services at four of the nine hospitals in North West London provoked fury among local residents and opposition from local councils as they would mean slow journeys over heavily congested roads for those living in much of northwest London. The proposals seemed to be motivated simply by cost savings with no regard to the consequences.

This protest was one of a number that I photographed, particularly about the closure of A&E and some other services at both Charing Cross Hospital (which is in Hammersmith) and Ealing Hospital. The previous month I had photographed a http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2012/09/sep.htm#hospitals large march from Southall Park to Ealing Hospital against the closure plan and there was another march to Central Middlesex Hospital taking place that same day.

These large and widespread protests and legal actions taken by the protesters were almost certainly a major factor behind the decision in March 2019 by then Health Secretary Matt Hancock to finally scrap the plans for what was the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS. The campaigners welcomed the decision but said it should have come much earlier rather than after seven years of the Dept of Health supporting the plans, which would have involved demolishing Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most the site.

I photographed as people gathered for the march in Shepherds Bush but had to leave as the march was setting off for Hammersmith and a rally in Fulham to go to Westminster.

Britain First, a far-right anti-Muslim movement (it describes itself as “a modern, responsible patriotic political movement”) was protesting at Downing St against what they described as ‘Britain’s secret shame – Muslim Grooming’ and were joined on their protest by members of other extremist groups including the English Defence League. After protesting for around an hour at Downing St they marched the short distance to Parliament Square where they tried to burn an Islamic flag. It proved to be rather fire-resistant.

A few yards away, thousand of Muslims packed Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament in a peaceful protest against an Anti-Muslim film made in the USA. They called for laws to protect religious figures.

The film, Innocence of Muslims, a crude video made by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakoula_Basseley_Nakoula Egyptian-born American writer Mark Basseley Youssef had already prompted violent anti-American protests in various Muslim countries. Youssef was then in jail in Los Angeles for violations of a probation order which, among other things included making false statements regarding his role in the film, and his use of the alias “Sam Bacile”. He had a previous conviction for in 1997 for intent to manufacture methamphetamine and was under probation following release in June 2011 from being jailed in 2010 for his part in a bank fraud.

Youssef, under his alias Bacile, falsely claimed that the anti-Islamic film had been funded by $5 million from 100 Jewish donors and that he was an Israeli Jew. An Egyptian court tried him and others in absentia and sentenced them to death for defaming Islam in November 2012. He was released from prison in 2013 to serve the remainder of his sentence in a halfway house in Californinia followed by 4 years of probabation.

Finally I travelled to Kilburn for a march and rally demanding Brent council rehouse the Counihan family from South Kilburn. Two years earlier, Anthony Counihan, a London bus driver inherited a few acres of poor land in Galway on the death of his father. Rented out, it brings an income of £18 a week.

He reported this to Brent Council, who responded with an eviction order and a demand for repayment of £70,000 of housing benefit, later telling him he should move back with his family to Ireland where he was born – while continuing to drive a bus from Cricklewood Depot. His wife Isabel and five children were all born in Brent.

The case was complicated by the fact that the family had moved out of a council property to go back to Ireland for a year to look after his sick father, and had signed away their lease as the council had not told them they could sublet for the year, and by their treatment by the council after their return, when they were unable to find accomodation they could afford on a bus-drivers salary. Brent decided they had made themselves “intentionally homeless” and were refusing their statutory duty to rehouse the family.

More on all at:
Rehouse the Counihans
Muslims against Anti-Muslim Film
Britain First – Muslim Grooming
Save Our Hospitals – Shepherds Bush


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Save St Helier Hospital – 7 July 2018

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

The battle by local campaigners against the closure of acute facilities at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals in south London has been hard fought and illustrates many of the problems faced by the NHS as the government has called for huge savings from hospital trusts, many made paupers by PFI repayments.

The situation continues to develop after the march which I photographed on Saturday 7th July 2018, and in July 2020 plans were approved to build a new smaller Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Sutton which will bring together six acute services, A&E, critical care, acute medicine, emergency surgery, inpatient paediatrics and maternity services.

The trust say in the documentation for the first phase of public consultation which closed on 30th June 2021 that “85% of current services will stay at Epsom Hospital and St Helier Hospital. There will be urgent treatment centres open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at both of these hospitals.”

But health service unions and campaigners are worried by the proposals, which they say will strip acute services including two fully functioning A&E departments. The proposed urgent treatment centres will not have the capacity to treat life threatening illness. They say the downgrading of the two major hospitals will endanger the lives of people living in the area.

The new unit is one of 40 across the country which have been announced several times as a part of the governments increased investment in the NHS. Many see this and other similar schemes as being designed to increase privatisation and make involvement in the health service more attractive to healthcare companies.

July 7th was a sweltering hot day in London, and the walk from a park in the centre of Sutton to the St Helier Open Space in front of the hospital went through Sutton High St, fairly crowded with shoppers and then along hot, dusty streets with few people around. Walking was tiring, and taking photographs even more so. It was a difficult event to photograph, where I found relatively little to work with. But I was pleased to be there, supporting the campaign to keep the hospitals open and serving the community, part of a National Health Service that was celebrating 70 years of being brought into existence by a Labour Government.

It took a huge and deterimined fight by Nye Bevan to get the National Health Service Act passed, with Tories denouncing it as bringing National Socialism to the country and opposing it in parliament at every opportunity. But on 5th July 1948 we got the NHS, although almost ever since the Conservative party when in power has been looking for and finding ways to convert it from a universal public health care system to a service run for private profit.

NHS at 70 – Save St Helier Hospital