MP takes fight for accessible health information for Haringey’s blind and partially sighted to GPs

Stepping up her fight to improve access for blind and partially sighted people to information from local health services, Lynne Featherstone MP has this week written to all local GPs urging them to provide details of their services in Braille and audio formats.

This latest initiative follows a successful drive in February by the Hornsey and Wood Green MP to get the local Whittington Hospital to agree to produce information about their services in formats accessible to blind and partially sighted people. But to ensure the whole local healthcare system offers accessible formats, as required under law, and for the information to be included in referrals to the hospital, GPs need to follow suit too.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s great that the Whittington is continuing to extend the service of providing health information in accessible formats, but for the local health system to be fully accessible, GPs need to do the same.

“That’s why I am calling on them to act now to provide details of their services in Braille and audio formats. We all have the right to keep health information private, and I will continue fighting to make sure that is the reality for blind and partially sighted people locally too.”

Whittington A & E revisited

As I said at the rally to celebrate saving the Whittington A& E – we have to keep this in focus and remain eternally vigilant. The coalition government called a halt to the reconfiguration process (hurrah) virtually as soon as we were in Government but we need to be on the ball.

To this end I met with the Minister, Simon Burns (hospital finance and performance) yesterday to make sure we all know what’s happening. The Minister had brought in all the key players from the Chair of GP commissioning to Rachel Tyndall (who chaired the review and was key at the public meeting I organised during the campaign to save the A&E).

Ok – so the key things are that – phew – the review has started! The Minister assured me (and Cllrs Winskill and Butcher who accompanied me) that unlike under the last government who claimed closing the A&E was a local decision (whereas we know it had nothing to do with local peoples’ wishes) this time it would be genuinely local as the Government edict imposed that as a duty on the North London Sector Review panel. And there are clear lines of accountability.

For the first time I heard with my own ears North London Sector admit that there had been faults in the previous process – which is a start – given the continual denial of all the issues local people raised. The litany was clear: accessibility (no one can get to the Royal Free), the out of hours GP services to take the non-A&E cases that currently go to A&E don’t exist; the Royal Free couldn’t cope with an extra 35,000 people (even if they could get there) and so on and so on, no clinical evidence, etc – all the very good cases local people made.

Watch this space – and if you hear anything too – let me know immediately! 


The “right decision” for residents say Liberal Democrats as the Whittington is saved

Whittington Hospital celebrationIn response to the announcement by the government that the Whittington Accident and Emergency department will not face closure, Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green comments:

“This is fantastic news, and such a brilliant testament to the fact that the power of local people and our campaign has worked!

“This is the right decision for local residents. I have been fighting tooth and nail together with my Liberal Democrat colleagues and local residents to keep our vital health services open since the disastrous plans were leaked to me last October.

“I am ecstatic that we have been successful in forcing faceless health bureaucrats to back down.

“Nick Clegg has given cast iron guarantees that he will not close the Whittington, and I will certainly be holding Labour to their last minute promise – and make sure this is not just a hollow election pledge.

“Thanks so much to all local residents, campaigners and activists who have given so much to help save the Whittington.”

Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats adds:

“Local residents have forced the Labour Government to listen to them, but let’s not forget that it was a Labour government that let the faceless bureaucrats put these plans on the table in the first place.

“The plans to change health services in north London are still ongoing – NHS London need to come clean on what the remaining plans will mean for people in Haringey.”

Closing A&Es at local hospitals is the “right thing to do” to improve NHS care, says Labour Minister

Labour’s campaign to save the Whittington accident and emergency was left in tatters it emerged that a top Labour politician said that closing local A&E and maternity departments was “the right thing to do.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Lynne Featherstone has condemned the reported remarks by Labour Health Secretary Andy Burnham, and has said the revelation unmasks local Labour claims that they back the campaign to save the Whittington A&E.

In reality, Mr Burnham’s remarks show that it is Labour that is threatening these vital services.

Lynne Featherstone, who has campaigned tirelessly against the closure for the past six months, comments:

“These comments from the Labour minister in charge of our Health Service unmask the grim reality of Labour’s policies. This is what is threatening our local A&E at the Whittington.

“Local Labour politicians can hide behind a local campaign, just as they did with the closure of our Post Offices. The truth is that Labour cannot be relied on to fight for these vital local services.”

Whittington A&E – story 30

Sheila’s story:
I have so many examples of when my family has needed an A&E hospital close at hand and frankly not for trivial reasons.

My eldest son stumbled, aged 5, into a rose branch which resulted in a deep cut millimetres from his eye – we rushed him to the Whittington A&E department and they dealt within him within minutes of this serious accident. He was terrified so having an A&E close at hand made a huge difference.

My husband is a diabetic and has been taken to the A&E department unconscious on several occasions over many years. He recently had a severe fit and the ambulance arrived within 5-10 minutes only because it was at the Whittington Hospital A&E having delivered a patient there. The ambulance was based in Enfield so imagine how long we would have waited had it not been there. It took almost an hour to completely revive him, including the use of oxygen.

I am very very unhappy to think we might not have a nearby A&E department. I have also been rushed to A&E at the Whittington with a severe allergic reaction and breathing difficulties about 10 years ago. I will never forget the feeling of distress and panic and the fact that we arrived at the hospital within minutes was hugely important. If we then factor in all the accidents and broken bones that my children and my friend’s and neighbour’s children have experienced as they grow up, it simply beggars belief that this vital hospital department is under threat.

Are they totally insane?

Whittington A&E – story 28

Valeria’s story:

Oscar, our first baby, was born at UCLH beginning of December.

As new parents, you rely strongly on a visit from the mid-wife to make sure all is well with the little one.
We waited 3 long days and nobody came to see us despite numerous phone calls to all services concerned.

We did not sleep for 3 days and Oscar cried at night and during the day while he required to be breastfed non-stop. We felt helpless and did not understand what was going on. Every day we were hopeful that someone might visit us, but this did not happen. One evening, we’d had enough and decided to take our baby to Whittington A&E.

We were right to be concerned as Oscar had lost considerable weight and had turned yellow (beginning of jaundice).

Someone saw us around 2am and Oscar was admitted to hospital for 4 days.

We will always be grateful to the Whittington and especially to the A&E. This was the ONLY service that was willing to have a look at what was wrong with Oscar. Nobody else cared at the time.

Nick Clegg adds his voice to Whittington campaign as MP presents residents’ stories to health minister

Lynne Featherstone presenting personal stories about the Whittington HospitalLiberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg, has backed the campaign to stop closure of the Whittington A&E. The pledge of support comes in the same week as Lynne Featherstone presents local peoples’ personal stories to the Health Minister about their experiences of the Whittington A&E to demonstrate just why local residents need the Whittington A&E to stay open, and to demand that the Government halts the threat.

The Liberal Democrat MP presented Mike O’Brien, Minster for Health, with a collection of over 200 personal stories, written by local residents, who are horrified by the threat to the Archway hospital.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to stopping this process dead in its tracks. They will replace health quangos with directly elected health boards, accountable to local residents for the decisions they make.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Leader, says:

“I support the campaign to save Whittington A&E. Decisions about local services should be taken by locally accountable bodies. I would not let North London Central NHS close this A&E. I oppose all proposals made by unaccountable bureaucrats which threaten local services.”

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“I welcome Nick’s unequivocal support of this campaign. But thanks also to the many personal and moving stories sent to me by local
residents, I feel we’ve made a powerful case for why the Whittington needs to stay open.

“This is about real people’s lives not paper solutions.

“The many intimate and touching stories really help show why having a hospital close-by is so vital. Many residents praise the hard working staff at the Whittington, who have helped them deal with really difficult and life-altering situations.

“I hope this will help tip the balance, and send a strong message to the Government from the people of Hornsey and Wood Green – hands off our A&E!”