I was honoured to speak at the Defend the Whittington meeting last Tuesday in an overflowing hall, joined by over 500 concerned residents from across Islington, Camden and Haringey.
I was as shocked as everyone else to read in the papers of the proposed sell off of 1/3 of the Whittington’s land, a reduction in beds by almost a half and cutting the numbers of doctors and nurses. I have regular meetings with the Board and had met with them just weeks before and yet had not been told of these proposals.
While I commend the Boards strategy to bring the Whittington into the 21stCentury, by increasing care in the community, their overall plans seem hurried and do not include enough detail as to how the services will be provided.
The board has been rushed into becoming a Foundation Trust under pressure from the Tory-led Government’s Health and Social Care Act. To compound that this year the hospital will receive a budget increase of only 0.01% - a real terms cut in their funding.
I had asked Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green – who did not attend the Defend the Whittington meeting – to vote with us against the Health Bill. The Lib Dems could have killed this bill and they could have ensured adequate funding to our NHS. They choose not to and now we are seeing the results.
We need to send a clear message to the Conservatives and Liberals Democrats that we will not tolerate rushed and unconsidered changes to our National Health Service. The Whittington Hospital is greatly loved and as its friends, we must fight to protect it.