KAREN JENNINGS: thousands marched on Whittington with single voice
On Saturday I marched with huge pride alongside thousands of local residents, NHS staff, local politicians and trade unionists. With one voice we called to for the Whittington to be saved. I have to pay tribute to the tenacity and organisational skills
On Saturday I marched with huge pride alongside thousands of local residents, NHS staff, local politicians and trade unionists. With one voice we called to for the Whittington to be saved.
I have to pay tribute to the tenacity and organisational skills of the local campaign group Defend the Whittington Coalition; who have been instrumental in putting this campaign on the map. But, while we chanted for our A&E and local maternity services to be saved; it turns out that the threat to the Whittington is much graver than first realised, and indeed plans to undermine its future are already being implemented.
So, what are the facts? Well, the most recent documentation from the North Central London NHS Strategic Health Authority tell us that local NHS managers plan to close the 24-hour A&E at the Whittington Hospital. We also know that a full public consultation is planned for later this year.
Having spoken at two public meetings, knocked on the doors of over 4,000 residents, launched a petition and marched and spoken at the rally, I know that local people want two things. They want to know how to make local NHS officials accountable to the public for their decisions and they want to keep the A&E open.
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But I have recently learned that NHS bosses are already pursuing changes and implementing policies that effectively undermine the sustainability of the Whittington. In short, it is my view that local NHS bosses are pursuing the closure of the Whittington by stealth.
In December, Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn led a public meeting where Rachel Tyndall, Chief Executive of the Islington Primary Care Trust, admitted that patients with serious injury cases were already being transferred to hospitals other than the Whittington. I followed this up with a specific question to the Whittington Chief Executive Rob Larkman at a Haringey Overview and Scrutiny meeting in January. He emphatically denied this was the case.
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This inconsistency raises a series of serious questions that I will be pursuing answers to over the coming weeks. My question to Mr Larkman and Ms Tyndall is: are patients with serious injuries being diverted away from the Whittington? In which case, what other plans are being implemented now ahead of the formal public consultation? And, to ensure that I am getting the full facts I will be asking the Chief Executive of the London Ambulance Service whether they have been advised to take patients to facilities other than the Whittington.
These are vital questions for the residents of Hornsey and Wood Green - the Whittington is our closest hospital. The loss of A&E would mean no provision anywhere between Euston Road and the North Circular, leaving residents of Hornsey and Wood Green and others across the boroughs of Haringey, Islington and a large part of Barnet with no local provision at all!
Where will expectant mothers go to have their babies?
There has been a hospital on the Whittington site for over 400 years. With recent investment we now have a new northern wing, fabulous new wards and a modern welcoming entrance and it's supported by highly committed and experienced staff.
The Whittington is an exceptional hospital with exceptionally dedicated staff delivering excellent healthcare; it is free from MRSA and scores highly on inspections. Our community rightly feels proud of it.
As a former nurse, I have worked in the NHS and I know how demoralising it is to work in a hospital under threat of closure. As a leading campaigner for the NHS I also know how effective a local campaign can be in preventing the closure of an A&E department and local hospitals
I will be pursuing answers to my questions and stepping up my campaigning activities - you can visit my website karejennings.org to hear the latest and join the campaign and I will also update Ham&High readers with the answers I get from NHS bosses.
q Karen Jennings is the Labour Parliamentary
Candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green and is head of health for UNISON