Nurses march in cuts protest

Sisterhood: Bottom row from left, Elizabeth Gartside, Anne Dobinson and Pam McLoughlin. Top row from left, ward sister Dawn Parkinson and healthcare assistant Michelle Humphreys

Sisterhood: Bottom row from left, Elizabeth Gartside, Anne Dobinson and Pam McLoughlin. Top row from left, ward sister Dawn Parkinson and healthcare assistant Michelle Humphreys

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Hospital staff from Chorley joined thousands of protesters in London on Saturday to show their anger over the government’s spending cuts.

Nurse Elizabeth Gartside, 60, has been in the medical industry for 36 years, and is now having to re-apply for her own job at the Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital as the National Health Service tries to save cash.

She marched for five hours with 400 UNISON union members through the capital’s streets at the weekend, but admits it probably won’t do much good.

“I doubt it’ll make a difference,” she said. “But we can’t just sit back and let them walk all over us.

“I’m having to be interviewed for my own job, which is just an insult.

“When I started this job 36 years ago, I never imagined it would come to this.

“It’s heartbreaking to see how things are changing. When staff members leave, they aren’t being replaced, and that’s bound to have a knock-on effect on service delivery eventually.”

Around 400,000 demonstrators took to the city against the cuts, which followed the government’s budget last week, which included a cut in the NHS’s spending power of almost £1bn.

Elizabeth’s colleague Pam McLoughlin, 53, also joined the campaingers, which included firefighters, council workers and students.

But she’s furious that around 200 masked vandals caused havoc during the demonstrations.

Eighty-four people were injured and 31 police officers were hurt as the group attacked hotels and shops with paint and smokebombs, and hurled lightbulbs filled with ammonia at the police.

Pam said: “We were in Oxford Street when we saw people in black hoodies wearing ski masks.

“It was quite frightening, so we stayed well out of the way.

“It’s just annoying that they got all of the major coverage and took the meaning away from our plight.”

She added: “We did have a lot of support on the day though, and the comradery was great.”

Nurse Anne Dobinson said: “We’re all really concerned about the spending cuts and the affect they’ll have on the service we provide to the people of Chorley.

“We appreciate that they’re needed, but we think they’re too fast and too severe.”

Tony Curtis, Chief Executive for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, said: “I would like to assure the community that providing high quality health care continues to be our first priority and we are committed to maintaining frontline services at Chorley hospital.”