Service downgrade meeting shambles

PUBLISHED: 16:28 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:25 12 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS were refused entry into a meeting about proposals to downgrade hospital services. Three members of pressure group

CAMPAIGNERS were refused entry into a meeting about proposals to downgrade hospital services.

Three members of pressure group Keep Our NHS Public were turned away from a constituency meeting with health chiefs at Coldharbour Community Centre, Mottingham last Thursday.

Eltham MP Clive Efford barred the protestors from the meeting claiming that it was for his constituents only.

Frances Hook, chair of Keep Our NHS Public, said: "If they want a consultation with no conflict of opinion, to me that is not democracy.

"Why give only one side of the story? I'm sure if we agreed with them we would have been allowed in."

Residents were able to speak in person to representatives from health branches including the ambulance service, hospitals and Primary Care Trusts.

Mr Efford, who organised the event, said it attracted around 30 people.

He said: "I put the meeting up so that people from my constituency would have time to sit down around a table and talk.

"It is not for people who are not my constituents to assume they have something better to say than them.

"I think it is slightly arrogant, incredibly arrogant that they think they have the right to just roll up and interfere."

Harbahajan Singh, secretary of Greenwich Pensioners' Forum, also attended but was interrupted by Mr Efford's staff asking why he was there.

On leaving he said he saw the Labour MP's staff removing leaflets from cars advertising the forum's protest march from Blackheath to Lewisham Hospital this Saturday.

He said: "It was ridiculous. I was told it was Clive Efford's private meeting. It was quite rude.

"I didn't want to make a scene, I was absolutely frozen because the weather was treacherous. What do they want to hide?"

Mr Efford said he allowed the campaigners to leave some leaflets on a table but had no knowledge of flyers being removed from cars.

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