Here’s my most recent Ham and High column about the Whittington Hospital
Last week, the Whittington Hospital Board released their revised strategy for the Hospital’s future. And it is certainly an improvement on their first attempt!
The Whittington Hospital Board sure did give us a scare in January, when they announced that they would be selling hospital buildings and reducing staff and beds – without any public consultation .
As well as being a local MP, the Whittington is my local hospital, and has been for decades. Like everyone, I was concerned and fearful about the Hospital’s future.
The local Liberal Democrats, residents and I had campaigned hard back in 2010 to save the A&E – as the then Labour Government attempted to close it down. We thankfully saved it then, and I fully intended to do the same this time.
That’s why we launched a petition in January, calling on the Whittington Board to pause, listen to residents and assure us that there would be no loss of services without equal or better replacements in place.
Unlike some – we didn’t go out all guns blazing calling for no change at all. We recognise that the Hospital will have to make some changes to secure its long term future – but community consultation and no loss of hospital services are of paramount importance.
After meeting the Hospital Board regularly, and collecting a whopping 3,600 local resident signatures on our petition, they agreed to our demands. They assured us that there would be no loss of service, and agreed to pause and listen to residents.
This was a fantastic victory for local people power. The listening exercise gave us all a chance to tell the Whittington what we thought about their plans for our Hospital – and the result was a revised strategy! I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to every resident who signed our petition and made the Board see sense.
As for the strategy now – two buildings that were earmarked for sale have been saved, while two others will be subject to a community consultation. The Hospital’s maternity unit will still see a £10million investment, and plans for an ambulatory day care centre to support the A&E will go ahead. Beds will not be lost unless they are not needed, and there will be no significant reduction in staff.
And in other good news – the Hospital are now in no rush to push through any changes. Thanks to Lib Dem work in Government, the deadline for Hospitals to make changes and become Foundation Trusts – set by the previous Labour Government – has been removed. This means Hospitals like the Whittington can progress under considerably less pressure.
The Haringey Lib Dems and I will of course continue to push hard for high quality health services for our community as the details of these plans are worked out – and keep residents updated on any opportunities that arise for them to have their say.
It’s such a shame, Lynne, that you cannot credit the success of the enormous amount of (unpaid) work that Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition has done to expose the disgust, anger and anxiety that the Whittington community felt about the appalling initial ft plans.
As I have said to you before, Much of the mess that the Whittington and the Nhs has been and is in is due to the disastrous and destructive impact of the Health and Social Care Act that you supported and your government is enacting.
It is appalling that you claim success in this campaign. You did not work with us collaboratively at all.
There is a load more to do. Above all your horrendous and destructive health legislation must be repealed to save our health service and keep our NHS public.
Shame on you!
I credit all people who stand up for their local services, want to have a say, and want to secure long term futures for their hospitals.
That’s why, in our campaign, we called for no losses of services without replacement, and for a public consultation. I recognised, however that calling for absolutely no change to anything at the hospital would impair the Hospital’s Foundation Trust bid, and therefore compromise its long-term future.
That’s why I worked constructively with the board, and collected 3,600 local resident signatures calling on them to pause, rethink and consult. In response to the petition, the board have done just that – we have an improved strategy and pending public consultations. I am immensely proud of the work done by my fellow Lib Dem cllrs and local residents on this.
I do commend the work of the DWHC for raising awareness of the issue and calling on the board to think again. But I cannot support or collaborate with a campaign that calls for no changes at all, when no change at all would compromise the very future of the hospital.