Iwent to a meeting at the Whittington on Thursday night – held to begin the discussion about future health services with key stakeholders.
We were all sat at tables and the facilitator got each table to do the usual note taker plus rapporteur on the conversation had at the table. The question posed – was pretty broad – in that it asked what was important to us in taking forward the Whittington.
The threat to the A &E and maternity has gone for now. However, we need to not only be vigilant as the future shape of services at the Whittington, in the community and in primary care, come forward – but remain engaged and watchful about what decisions are taken about health services locally. Hence – it will be very important that local people (whose passion and power combined with a timely general election) saved the Whittington – to take part in these meetings – of which this was just the first.
What was heartening was the thoughtfulness and considered ideas that came forward from each table during the feedback session. The most obvious was that everyone wanted local emergency and health services near to where they lived and easily accessible. But there were a host of suggestions about integrated care, the transition from hospital to home, the need to keep core services to ensure that A&E and maternity were supported, the possibility of looking at what (if any) savings could be made between the three hospitals (UCH, Royal Free and Whittington) working out between them who did what on special services maybe – and really a lot more – including GPs being more involved with the hospital, concerns that private contracts would increase and a recognition that the population that depends on the Whittington has low car ownership, often has English as a second language, needs public transport to access services and so on.
Despite the fact that there will be a real terms increase in the NHS budget (of 1%) the increase in population around hte Whittington and increasing demand for services will rise 6% – so savings will have to be found.
It is crucial that we fight for the services we want.