Community battle to fight Whittington Hospital sell-off

08:00 31 January 2013

History repeats itself? Demonstrations march to save the Whittington Hospital

History repeats itself? Demonstrations march to save the Whittington Hospital's A&E department in 2010. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Campaigners have launched a battle to stop the proposed sale of almost half the Whittington Hospital and prevent ward closures labelled “disgraceful” by the community.

In a shock decision last week the hospital board approved the sale of the north half of the site in Magdala Avenue, Highgate, in order to raise £17 million as it moves towards Foundation Trust status.

To be considered the hospital needs to have made a saving of £4.8million by March this year.

The five-year plan, known as the Estates Strategy, involves the sale of 8,375 square metres of land in the north of the hospital site - about the size of a football pitch.

The 102 page document states that some “essential services” will be relocated to buildings in the south of the campus.

But the sell-off will result in the loss of dozens of beds for the elderly and new mothers, as well as the loss of accommodation for nurses.

Births at the Whittington will also be capped at 4,000 a year in order to save money.

Wards will be closed, including the Betty Mansell health ward which provides health care to women, the Murray ward which has 19 beds for post-natal care, and the Cloudsley and Meyrick wards which provide stroke rehabilitation for the elderly.

If the proposals go ahead, the hospital will also become the third NHS organisation in the country to go “paper less”, resulting in the sale of the Grade II listed Jenner building which is currently used for administration.

Training space for undergraduates will also be lost.

A petition started by the Defend The Whittington Coalition campaign group was signed by more than 100 people within 24 hours of its launch on Sunday (January 27) and campaigners are mobilising residents who will be hit hardest by loss of services.

Shirley Franklin, chairwoman of Defend The Whittington Coalition, said the proposed sell-off was an “absolute disgrace”.

She said: “We need to make our anger visible. Our health needs are being threatened.

“It’s our hospital and there was no talking to the community. The way the decision was made looks dodgy.

“It feels like they have no respect for our NHS and no respect for social care.”

She added: “They’re selling off the family silver. Those buildings were built for health.”

An urgent meeting was held with the hospital’s chief executive, MPs and councillors on Monday (January 28), and Whittington Health was also called to the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon (January 29) to explain the proposals.

The Defend The Whittington Coalition is planning to hold a protest march in two months - and believes it will match the scale of protests attended by thousands that helped save the hospital’s Accident and Emergency department when it was threatened with closure in 2010.

Campaigners also hope to involve high profile local organisations, such as Arsenal Football Club, in the fight to stop the sale.

Among the groups that have already voiced support are Defend Haringey Health Services and Camden Keep Our NHS Public (KONP).

In a statement, the Whittington Hospital said the Estates Strategy “responded to the health trends of our local population”.

A spokeswoman said: “More people are receiving healthcare in their homes, health centres and GP surgeries.

“Over time the dependency on hospital wards will decrease, which will see some staff relocate to health centres.”

The Whittington said that over the next five years it plans to invest £10 million in maternity services, £2.9million on a new assessment centre for those who do no require hospital admission and £7million on an electronic patient record system.

The Defend The Whittington Coalition will hold a public meeting on Valentine’s Day with speakers including Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, Tottenham MP David Lammy and Cllr Catherine West, leader of Islington Council.

Campaigners will also stage a protest outside the hospital’s next board meeting on February 27.

Related articles


Latest News Stories

Police attended as a group of travellers arrived at the Liddell Road site. Picture by local resident, 'Jon'

A group of travellers has moved into a council-owned site in West Hampstead, prompting a short-lived standoff with the police.

Yesterday, 14:24
Neelu Berry, who was cleared of all charges, arriving at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court yesterday

A woman has been cleared of having “vexed” a priest and disrupting a Sunday service.

Yesterday, 12:34
Natalia Czekaj died after being stabbed more than 20 times by James Richardson

The loved ones of a barmaid who was stabbed more than 20 times during a frenzied attack say they have been left “disgusted” by the British justice system after a judge said her killer should only spend four years in jail because he is an alcoholic.

Yesterday, 12:42
Actor Jim Carter joins the

Actor Jim Carter, who plays Carson in Downton Abbey, joined protestors in West Hampstead in their bid to prevent a pair of six and seven storey tower blocks being built on their doorstep.

Yesterday, 08:00
Alex Lyons with her children Oscar, five, and Benjy, three.

 Picture: Nigel Sutton

A loophole allowing families to get their children into the most popular primary schools despite living miles outside catchment areas is set to be closed by Haringey Council following complaints from parents and carers.

Wed, 13:46
Camden Borough Commander CS Penny Banham. Picture: Polly Hancock

Camden’s new top cop has criticised proposals put forward by Hampstead residents to fund their own police officers – saying it would “not set a good precedent” for the rest of London.

Wed, 11:18
Athlone House, taken in 2011. Picture: Michael Hammerson

The owners of historic Athlone House near Hampstead Heath are to take their bid to demolish the mansion to the High Court.

Wed, 09:52
A 22-year-old man was stabbed at Walker House in Phoenix Street, Somers Town

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested after a man was stabbed at a block of flats in Somers Town, Camden.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder