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Sweeping changes to services at the Whittington and Royal Free slammed

PUBLISHED: 11:44 17 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:59 17 November 2016

A previous march against proposed cuts to the Whittington Hospital. Photo: Nigel Sutton

A previous march against proposed cuts to the Whittington Hospital. Photo: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Key departments could be merged across local hospitals as part of a proposed national shake-up of the NHS

Major changes to services at the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals as part of a proposed national shake-up of the NHS have been slammed by campaigners.

The Whittington, Royal Free and University College hospitals will all be hit by the government’s “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” (STP.)

Health organisations across the country need to present five-year plans and budgets for the future of health and care services.

Services in the “north central London” boroughs of Islington, Haringey, Camden, Enfield and Barnet, have a deficit of £900m.

The plans include merging or “consolidating” departments across University College, The Royal Free and the Whittington.

This could impact on emergency surgery, orthopaedic, mental health and dermatology.

The preliminary plans are, however, still short on detail on how changes will work in practice.

The Whittington Hospital has pledged to keep its Accident and Emergency department open

Camden Council leader Sarah Hayward believes plans are not subject to enough oversight.

She said: “There has been no political oversight, and minimal public and patient engagement.”

Cllr Hayward published the plans on the council website, along with an online survey.

Shirley Franklin, chair of activist group Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, said that she is relieved there are no plans to close their A&E service.

She said: “The proposals could be similar to 2009, when they tried to close our maternity, paediatric, A and E and intensive care departments - but we fought them off!”

Ms Franklin added: “It is gobsmackingly disgusting that at a time when the NHS is creaking at the seams, unable to meet the massive and critical mental and physical health needs of the population, that the Government will not fund the NHS properly.”

A Royal Free spokeswoman said: “As stated in the plan, we will work out where it makes sense to bring services together or create networks across organisations to improve the experience of our patients.”

Simon Pleydell, chief executive of Whittington Health NHS Trust, said: “There are no plans to close or downgrade Whittington Health’s Accident & Emergency Department. More and more people are attending our Accident & Emergency Department and we are busy recruiting more consultants to manage demand.”


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