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WHITTINGTON: Mutilation of services IS a dreadful prospect

PUBLISHED: 10:09 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:35 07 September 2010

Your trenchant editorial and the letter from members of the Islington BMA (H&H Comment and letters, November 19) will be welcome by all those who may one day need the acute medical services at the Whittington – as I did just one week ago. It is a major

Your trenchant editorial and the letter from members of the Islington BMA (H&H Comment and letters, November 19) will be welcome by all those who may one day need the acute medical services at the Whittington - as I did just one week ago.

It is a major indictment of this Government that it has spent so much money on the NHS to such poor effect. The annual increase in real terms between 1999 and 2008 has been 6.4 per cent which may be good for headlines but has proved largely a waste of public money with no commensurate improvement in service levels but an actual fall in productivity.

The proposals from the faceless 'Clinical Advisory Group' of North Central London NHS amount to planning by 'A to Z'.

NCLNHS is now on record as contemplating leaving only two of the five hospitals in their patch (Royal Free, UCH, Whittington, Barnet and North Middlesex) with acute services.

And what a disaster that would be, apart from the obvious needs of the acutely ill of easy access to and ready availablity of efficient medical services.

There is no evidence that NCLNHS have given a moment's thought to the vital needs of the education and training of doctors, an incalculable asset to the country as a whole, the benefits of which do not figure on the NHS balance sheets.

The Whittington is one of three campuses, with UCH and the Royal Free, of the UCL Medical School and has had an international reputation for many years for postgraduate training, one major spin off for patients being the high standards of the ambitious and bright junior doctors who want to work there.

Can medical students be adequately taught and doctors trained down at the 'local'?

As you say in your editorial the Whittington may not be perfect. It is after all only the second safest hospital in the country - by recent Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios criteria.

What we can be certain about is that its preservation as an acute general hospital is essential for a large local population and for the good of the NHS as a whole.

The irreversible mutilation of north London's hospital services for the sake of short term financial expediency does not bear contemplation.

(Dr) Barry Hoffbrand

Cholmeley Park, N6


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