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Whittington – Go back to square one!

Whittington Hospital

Hornsey & Haringey MPIt was only three years ago that we took to the streets to march, petition and fight against the Labour Government’s proposed closure of the Whittington A&E. Thank goodness, we won.

But now the Whittington faces a new crisis – and this time it’s one of their own making.

Like most residents, I was deeply shocked when the Whittington Board announced its intentions to sell off a third of the Hospital site and reduce the number of beds at the hospital.

Despite regular meetings with the CEO – this was the first I’d heard of the proposals. Of even greater concern – the Hospital Board had not yet mentioned this to their staff or Trust members.

Whittington HospitalAnnouncements like this, without proper consultation, explanation or warnings, are bound to generate concern, scepticism and panic. I simply could not believe a Hospital Board could be so naive as to think they were pleasantly surprising people.

That’s why the Haringey Lib Dems and I immediately started a petition calling for no loss of services until equal or better replacement services are in place, and for a full public consultation. Over 2500 people have now signed.

This sent a clear indication to the Whittington – the public care deeply about the hospital, do not want to see a loss of service, and are very angry at not being consulted.

We understand that the Whittington is pursuing a Foundation Trust application, in order to secure a long term future as a full service hospital. We recognise that the hospital needs to tweak its estate and make changes in order to become a Foundation Trust.

Whittington HospitalWe also do not oppose selling off derelict buildings, and using the money to invest in maternity and A&E services. To oppose this would – quite frankly – be nonsensical.

But – that does not mean we are without concern about other area of the plans.

Beds will be reduced as more non-urgent care is moved into the community. The hospital has still not offered an adequate explanation of how social care for patients in the community will be provided and funded. The number of jobs is also set to be reduced.

We need proper explanation and information on how the Board’s plan will be implemented, and the effects it will have on patients and staff – in the hospital and in the community.

hospital in ArchwayThat’s why I have been pushing for a proper consultation process and called a public meeting to give residents a chance to speak to Board members, and to put their questions to the Hospital Board.

At least they are now attempting to consult, but I fear that it is still not enough. As their Foundation Trust application has been paused, the Board now has a chance to go back to square one, hold a proper consultation and reassess their plans.

I urge them to do this. Public engagement, clarity and confidence are of paramount importance – it is vital that they take this opportunity to listen and adapt their plans as appropriate.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey & Wood Green

Tel: 020 8340 5459

She blogs at www.LynneFeatherstone.org and is on Twitter at twitter.com/LFeatherstone

Email: [email protected] or write to me at House of Commons, London SW1A

Lynne Featherstone
About Lynne Featherstone (45 Articles)
Lib Dem MP for Hornsey & Wood Green Minister at the Department for International Development