Lynne Featherstone MP reacts to revised Whittington strategy

Lynne Featherstone MP outside the WhittingtonLynne Featherstone MP has today commented on the Whittington Hospital’s revised estate and clinical strategy. Two buildings earmarked for sale have been saved, while two others will now be subject to a community consultation. The hospital’s maternity unit will still see a £10million investment.

The Board still plan to integrate care into the community – where it is ‘in patients’ best interests based on clinical evidence.’

The Hospital Board first announced their future plans in January without consultation. The estate strategy, which involved sale of buildings and land at the north of the site, caused particular concern among local residents and trust members.

Lynne Featherstone MP launched a petition calling for the Whittington to listen to residents and give assurances that no services will be lost until equal or better are in place.  The Liberal Democrat MP also held a public meeting.

The Board agreed to the Liberal Democrat petition demands – assuring there would be no loss of service, and agreeing to enter into a listening exercise. The results of this listening exercise are reflected in the revised strategy.

Haringey Lib Dem health spokesperson, Cllr David Winskill commented:

“The direction of travel in the revised document is right. Integrated care will produce a better outcome but only with the proper support of social care agencies.

“We still have questions regarding where Haringey is with designating services, and we need to know a bit more regarding health services that the Whittington proposes to place in the community.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone commented:

“It is vital that the Board take the necessary steps to secure the long term future of the hospital – but community involvement and consultation is paramount when any change is made.

“Over 3000 local residents signed the Liberal Democrat petition calling on the Whittington Board to pause their plans, listen to residents, and ensure that no services are lost.  I’m glad that the Board heeded these calls by undertaking the listening exercise and giving us assurances that no services will be lost until equal or better are in place.

“As a result of the listening exercise, two buildings have been saved and the sale of the other two is now subject to further community consultation. The revised strategy also incorporates a welcome £10 million investment in maternity to improve the Hospital’s service and increase their capacity.

“My Haringey Lib Dem colleagues and I will continue to monitor the situation closely – particularly in regard to the implementation of integrated community care.”

See the revised strategy here:

Whittington Hospital set to announce a rethink..?

News has broken about the Whittington Hospital. At a Camden Council meeting last night, the Hospital’s medical director Dr Greg Battle told councillors that there has been a ‘complete rethink’ of their strategy.

The controversial hospital strategy – announced in January without consultation – would have seen hospital buildings sold and money reinvested in other services. It also included a reduction in hospital staff and beds, as more care is moved into the community.

Understandably this caused great concern. That’s why the Lib Dems and I campaigned for months to get the hospital to listen to residents – and for no loss of services. After presenting our petition signatures, the hospital agreed to engage residents in their plans, take their views on board and amend their strategy accordingly.

Dr Battle’s comments indicate that this has happened – and in that respect, a rethink is welcome – and potentially a great success for the Lib Dems and local residents.

However, I would urge everyone to err on the side of caution at the moment. Dr Battle has pre-empted the hospital’s official announcement – and we do not know the full details yet. I am meeting the board on Friday, and will be sure to get confirmation and assurances then.

I have also contacted the acting Chairman and Chief Executive of the hospital to attempt to get concrete information more quickly.

Watch this space.

Lynne Featherstone MP presents 3,600 strong petition to Whittington Board

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr David Winskill (Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health) outside the Whittington hospital with the Liberal Democrat petition. Local MP Lynne Featherstone has today formally presented a 3,600 strong petition to the Whittington Board, as their ‘listening exercise’ comes to an end.

The petition calls for Whittington Hospital to ensure that no hospital services are lost and no property sold without first conducting proper public consultation and putting equal or better local replacement services in place.

The MP for Hornsey and Green launched the petition in January, after the Hospital Board announced that they would be selling off buildings in the north of the site and reinvesting money in existing services. The Board were heavily criticised for their lack of consultation on the plans.

Following pressure from local residents and the Liberal Democrats, the Hospital Board paused their plans and entered into a period of public engagement. The Board will now consider the responses before rereleasing their plans for the future of the hospital.

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“3,600 residents have made their voices loud and clear – there should be no property sold or services lost without equal or better services being in place.

“Ever since the Board announced changes, the Haringey Lib Dems and I have been out on the doorstep, communicating with residents and asking for their support.

“We do not oppose change that will improve the hospital and secure its future – but it is vital that no services are lost and that residents get to have their say.

“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who signed our petition. I will be keeping a close eye on the Whittington and let residents know as and when I get any updates.”

Lynne Featherstone MP meets with Whittington Board

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr David Winskill (Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health) outside the Whittington hospital with the Liberal Democrat petition. Local MP Lynne Featherstone, along with Liberal Democrat Councillor David Winskill, has met with Whittington Board members to discuss their public engagement programme, and to ask for updates on their Foundation Trust application.

The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green has been pushing the Board to engage fully with the public ever since they announced controversial plans to make changes to the Hospital. Over 2,700 residents have signed a petition, supporting the MP’s call for engagement.

At the meeting, the Board informed the MP about their engagement process, which has involved open weekends, seminars, public meetings and liaison with local community and interest groups.

The Board confirmed that the engagement period would end on the 31st of May, and that their plans would then be reviewed in the following months. They will then release the revised plans.

The Liberal Democrat MP’s petition also calls for assurance that there will be no loss of service and proper consultation throughout this period of change. She has met frequently with the Board since the announcement in order to find out the facts and work constructively to secure the future of the hospital.

Following the meeting, Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“There is a growing consensus that some changes must be made to secure Foundation Trust status, and therefore the future of the Whittington Hospital.

“Initially, for instance, Labour called for no changes– yet now one of their own councillors has spoken out and admitted that campaigning against any changes at all will do more harm than good to the hospital.

“All along, the local Lib Dems and I have recognised the need for some changes. However we have campaigned hard to ensure no services are lost and that the Whittington engage with the public and review their plans accordingly.

“I’m very glad that the Whittington Board has undertaken a programme of engagement – though I still feel more could be done to bring the details of the situation to the wider community. I will continue to ask them to do more.

“In the meantime, anyone who has strong views on the plans, and on the future of the Whittington should contact the hospital as soon as possible – as this engagement period will end on May 31st. I will also be emailing my constituents to let them know.”

Labour split on Whittington

After months of opposing any changes at all to the Whittington Hospital, it seems some Labour members have finally realised that campaigning against any changes to the hospital will do more harm than good. See this tweet from Labour Cllr Martin Klute, for instance.

When the Whittington Board announced that it would be making changes to the hospital in January, everyone was shocked. Politicians across the Borough all agreed that the Hospital’s communications strategy had been appalling.

But then, we disagreed. A good summary of the disagreements between the Lib Dem and Labour approach can be found in the news here, with a further explanation below.

From the outset – the local Lib Dems and I knew that, despite their appalling communications, the Whittington Board members were trying to make changes to secure the long term future of the Hospital.

In order for the Whittington to be successful in their Foundation Trust application, the Board needed to make plans for change. They include selling off derelict buildings so that money can be reinvested in A&E and maternity. It also includes reducing beds in non-urgent wards, so that care can be transferred to the community.

Without making these changes, the Board would have been unsuccessful in securing Foundation Trust Status. This would have led to a takeover of the hospital, a loss of services, and loss of local control.

That’s why the Lib Dems and I did not oppose all changes out right. Unlike others, we would not oppose all changes to the Hospital for quick political gain.

Instead, we called for no loss of hospital services as a result of the changes, and for a full public consultation.

We had numerous meetings with the board and called a public meeting so residents could have their say. In response to our 2,700 signature strong petition, we received these assurances.

We continue to ask tough questions about the future of integrated care. We have continued our petition to ensure the Board engages with the public and keeps its word about services.

Labour, however, campaigned against any change or sale of land. They used the opportunity to try and blame the Government for what was happening, and score political points, despite the hospital’s plans having nothing to do with the Government.

During a separate public meeting, David Lammy MP spoke of how any changes would be the death knell for the Whittington. In fact, the opposite is true.

Some Labour politicians, such as Islington Council leader Catherine West, continue to oppose any changes, despite the growing realisation that change is necessary to protect the hospital. However, some Labour councillors have now come out against the Labour position.

I hope in time Labour will see sense and follow our example, fighting to keep local services not derelict buildings.

So, while Labour tries to get its house in order and find a coherent position – the local Lib Dems and I will stick to our original and clear position: That during this period of change, the Whittington should continue to engage with the public, and ensure that no local services are lost.

Today's Whittington March

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Lib Dems at the Whittington MarchTogether with the Haringey Lib Dems, I joined the Whittington march today. We repeated our call for local health services to be protected.

The Whittington Board recently announced its intentions to sell off a third of the Hospital site and reduce the number of and staff at the hospital. It came as a shock to politicians, residents and staff alike and caused a great deal of concern.

It was, of course, 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. We were successful then, as the community made it clear how important the hospital is to them.

Now the Hospital faces another challenge. But this is not the same as three years ago. The A&E is not under threat. And also – this time it is nothing to do with the Government (although many on the march with a purely political agenda would tell you otherwise.)

The Whittington Board have said that they are making these changes in order to improve their chances of becoming a Foundation Trust, which would secure a long term future for the Hospital.

We want the Hospital to be successful – and to be clear, we do not oppose selling off derelict buildings and using the money to improve maternity, for instance. Some changes could be positive and better for patients.

But we do have serious concerns about other parts of the plans, and we have some demands.

The Haringey Lib Dems and I are running a campaign to reflect these concerns. We don’t want any service lost without an equal or better replacement in place. We have serious concerns about how moving care into the community will be managed, and whether the appropriate social care would be provided. We also want the Whittington to go back to square one and consult residents.

That’s what we’ve been petitioning for, and we have collected 2,500 signatures so far. The future of the Whittington hospital and good quality health and social care is our priority. That’s the message we wanted to put across at the march, and this is the campaign we will continue to pursue.

You can sign the petition here.

Whittington Hospital suspends reorganisation plans

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr David Winskill (Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health) outside the Whittington hospital with the Liberal Democrat petition. The Whittington Hospital has suspended its reorganisation plan, following a delay to their Foundation Trust application.

The Hospital Board will use the delay to engage the local community, hospital staff and other stakeholders in their strategy.

The announcement follows a public meeting last Friday evening, which was organised by Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone. During the meeting a number of residents expressed concern at the lack of consultation and engagement with residents prior to the announcement.

Over 2500 residents also signed the Liberal Democrat petition which called for the Board to go back to square one and consult with the public – alongside demanding that no hospital services were lost until equal or better replacement services have been put in place.

Following the meeting, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green also raised concerns about how integrated care in the community – which will enable a reduction in beds in the main hospital – is implemented and funded.

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“I welcome the Whittington’s decision to engage with the public and to listen to residents’ views on these plans.

“The Hospital is trying to secure a long term future through becoming a Foundation Trust. But 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.”

Councillor David Winskill, Haringey Lib Dem health spokesperson, said:

“The level of debate during the public meeting demonstrated just how much residents value the Whittington, but also how aware they are of the different  factors surrounding any decision about the Hospital’s future.

“Many difficult questions were raised which need clear and thorough responses from the Whittington Board. I’m glad we now have the opportunity for this debate.”