Councillors grill ‘fatigued’ chairman over future of Whittington Hospital

10:00 03 April 2014

Whittington Health chairman Steve Hitchins looked visibly exhausted during the health scrutiny commmittee meeting on Friday

Whittington Health chairman Steve Hitchins looked visibly exhausted during the health scrutiny commmittee meeting on Friday


It appeared to have been a tough two weeks for the chairman of the Whittington Hospital as he sat slumped at a meeting of the local health watchdog committee.

Whittigton Health chairman Steve Hitchins was grilled for reassurances over the hospital’s future at a meeting of the joint health overview and scrutiny committee at Camden Town Hall on Friday.

It came after a fortnight when both the chief executive of the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, and two board members announced their resignations.

Mr Hitchins, who looked visibly exhausted during the meeting and was found at one point slumping over in his chair during a health chief’s presentation, admitted there were challenges in determining the “vision” for the future of the trust.

He said: “It’s been an interesting first three months talking to people to ask them what they think Whittington Health [the trust that runs the hospital] is.

“And there isn’t a clear vision.

“That is giving us some worrying results in staff surveys and a degree of uncertainty about the future.

“So we’ve got to develop that vision over the next few months.”

A major part of that vision, according to Mr Hitchins, was developing and rolling out integrated care in the community.

While lamenting the hospital’s “appalling complaints service” he was also quick to praise the progress made in regulatory assessments, care targets and mortality rates (which are the lowest in the country).

Councillors remained concerned, however, over “instability” among leadership at the trust.

Cllr Gideon Bull, chair of the committee and from Haringey Council, said: “I’m extremely concerned at the parting of the chief executive.

“Within three months of you arriving, the chief executive is going. It doesn’t read well.

“We want to make sure that we’ve still got that stability at the top of the organisation in terms of the management structure and that we’ve got all the key officers within the organisation pulling in the same direction.”

The organisation is approaching what could be a Waterloo moment as it aims to gain foundation trust status.

Mr Hitchins said failure to reach this “staging post” would see staff morale “crash to the floor”.


Latest News Stories

Volunteers plant a new herbaceous border to mark Waterlow Park's 125th anniversary. Picture: Polly Hancock

Volunteers armed with gardening forks and spades replanted a herbaceous border to mark a Highgate park’s 125th anniversary.

Bridget Cherry pictured at Hornsey Tower

Bridget Cherry's book, Ivy-Mantled Tower A History of the Church and Churchyard of St Mary Hornsey has been published by The Hornsey Historical Soc. Picture: Nigel Sutton

In telling the story of a long-vanished parish church, architectural historian Bridget Cherry has delved into the heart of what was once Hornsey village.

Paul Young, 18, who won the Personal Journey award and was named Inspirational Young Person of the Year at the Camden Youth Awards. Picture: Dieter Perry

Paul Young struggled to cope after suffering mental health problems, being bullied at school, and having to care for his unwell mother.

Yesterday, 17:29
Crouch End Festival Chorus at St John's Smith Square. Photo: Emily Soppet

The Crouch End Festival Chorus is taking a deep breath and running a 12-hour sponsored singing marathon this Saturday to raise funds for a major recording project.

Yesterday, 16:48
Flowers on Parkland Walk

Police are investigating after live ammunition was discovered in Parkland Walk.

Squatters at West End Lane

Squatters are currently believed to have barricaded themselves into a former council building in West Hampstead after an eviction order was served.

Yesterday, 13:00
London Ambulance Service has been recommended for special measures following a CQC report

The London Ambulance Service has been placed into special measures after being slammed by a health watchdog investigation as “inadequate”.

Yesterday, 11:47
Tulip Siddiq challenged the Prime Minister in the House of Commons

Mothers’ maiden names should be listed on marriage certificates alongside fathers’ names, Hampstead and Kilburn’s MP has told Parliament.

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


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

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

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder