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Whittington Hospital chiefs ‘did not think sell-off would be controversial’

07:00 31 January 2013

Dr Yi Mien Koh, chief executive of Whittington Health

Dr Yi Mien Koh, chief executive of Whittington Health

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Officials behind shock plans to sell off just under half of The Whittington Hospital’s land have told Haringey’s MPs they did not think it would be a controversial move.

Tottenham MP David Lammy has said hospital chiefs were surprised by the fuss being made about a proposed sell-off of the land to the north of the A&E slip road, revealed at a meeting of its board members last Wednesday.

North London MPs were so shocked by the news that an emergency meeting was called with the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Lammy, who attended the meeting along with Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone, said it was “extraordinary” they had not realised the reaction they would get once the plans were revealed – especially in light of the succesful campaign to stop the closure of the A&E just two years ago.

“They did not think it was controversial because the site did not have clinical services on it,” Mr Lammy said. “But people are alarmed – they are concerned.”

MPs and politicians – as well as the public – were all in the dark over the five-year plan. Haringey Council leader Claire Kober said the hospital had given “no indication that these proposals were on the cards”.

“Residents now need guarantees that services at The Whittington, like maternity provision, won’t be scaled back,” she said.

“With 350 jobs to be cut as part of the proposed savings, there remain a lot of unanswered questions around the impact of the changes on patient care, and the services the hospital will be able to provide in the future.”

Cllr David Winskill, Haringey’s Lib Dem spokesman for health, said people were “fearing the worst” because of the lack of consultation, adding: “At Chase Farm [in Enfield], residents were promised alternative services to support closures – yet they still haven’t materialised.

“This cannot be allowed to happen at The Whittington – alternative, and improved, services must be in place before any closures or land sell-offs.”

Ms Featherstone – who campaigned alongside Mr Lammy to save the hospital’s A&E – said she “actively opposed any loss of services without an equal or better service being provided”, adding: “It is evident that the board are planning to improve services through an estate rationalisation.

“I of course welcome an improvement in services – but nothing must go before new services are in place. I will be watching very closely to ensure that this happens, and that residents always have access to the treatment they need.”

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