Health workers united with patients, unions and politicians today to launch a mass campaign against the coalition's decimation of the NHS.
Defend London's NHS campaigners came together to launch a week of action against "the biggest attack on the NHS in its history" including closures and downgrading A&E and maternity units.
At least 10 hospitals in London have had their A&E and maternity departments threatened with closure, including Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Ealing and Central Middlesex.
In most areas the government has proposed to replace them with an "A&E lite" or urgent care centres - GP-run walk-in clinics able to treat only a limited number of minor conditions.
In other areas neighbouring hospitals, already overburdened, will be forced to take up the slack resulting in patients having to travel miles for life-saving treatments.
And north London's Whittington Hospital is proposing to sell off its north wing to private companies in the rush to achieve foundation trust status.
Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition spokeswoman Shirley Franklin said the sell-off and privatisation is part of a wider crisis in the NHS and called on campaigners to fight before it was too late.
Save Hammersmith & Fulham Hospital secretary Andy Slaughter MP warned that a variety of cynical methods are being adopted including "stealth tactics" in order to push through cuts and backdoor privatisation.
Representatives of Lewisham, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kingston and Islington hospital campaigns, where A&E departments are under threat, highlighted the "divide-and-rule" policies of NHS managers and politicians that set one hospital against another.
Patient and campaigner Laura Southern said that attacks to specialist services should also be a priority for the campaign as treatment for mental illness and other disabilities were at risk whenever cuts are made.
Mr Slaughter told the Star that most of the A&Es affected typically serve poorer and disadvantaged communities, highlighting a history of cutting services that affect those least likely to fight back.
He added that the government's Health and Social Care Act would make matters worse and went against many of the recommendations within last week's Francis Report into hundreds of needless deaths at Mid Staffs hospital.
Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander also warned the threat to maternity services were as big as those to A&E with the result that other hospitals were going to be completely overstretched.
She said: "Hospitals as we knew them are going to disappear with vital services being completely decimated."
Save Our Hospitals chairman Carlo Nero vowed: "We will do our utmost to extend this campaign nationally."
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