Thursday, March 14, 2013
Whittington Hospital campaigner, 107-year-old Hetty Bower, explains why she is fighting the hospital sell-off
The Whittington is my local hospital and has been for decades.
I have so many reasons – practical, political and personal – for opposing the destruction that will inevitably follow the proposed sell-off.
I remember the Whittington from well before the creation of the NHS.
It had been a Poor Law hospital, provided by public subscription, individual donations and charities.
Under the NHS, facilities were extended and improved.
Why should public assets, created and developed at public expense, now be handed over to private speculators, just to get the Whittington out of debt so it can gain foundation trust status and be more attractive for future privatisation?
My younger daughter, Margie, was born at the Whittington in 1938.
Although it then provided treatment both for private patients and the rest of us, they were so overcrowded that the person in the bed nearest to me in my public ward was a private patient.
The Whittington had a reputation for its pride in treating working class patients – unlike its more middle-class rival, the Royal Northern in Holloway Road which is now middle class flats.
Will that be the Whittington’s fate?
With London’s population growing faster than ever, and so many hospitals already closed, being closed or reduced in size, I believe there could be a disastrous shortage of beds and other facilities in the near future.
At the age of 95 I had a hip replacement operation performed there by the wonderful Miss Muirhead.
When I asked, “Do you think I’m silly having this operation at 95?”, she said, “It’s the young who should take care and the old who should live dangerously.”
The average age of her patients in the previous week was 93.
I’ve had mine 12 years and it’s still going strong.
Without it, I wouldn’t be able to march in this week’s demo.
I’m still a regular user of the hearing aid clinic and when I had a fall and got a black eye the week after I marched to save the Whittington’s A&E three years ago, I went straight to the Whittington, where they kept me overnight.