U-turn over Whittington Hospital sell-off as new proposals for future announced

The Whittington Hospital has today announced plans for its future which dramatically reverse controversial proposals to sell-off a third of the hospital site and cut jobs and beds.

Whittington Health, the trust that runs the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Highgate, has published its revised plans for hospital and community services following a three month consultation.

The new strategy follows the publication of the ‘Estates Strategy’ in January this year - which prompted a mass outcry from health campaigners and led 5,000 people to march against the proposals to sell of buildings and cut the number of staff and beds.

The trust has changed its plans and issued the following commitments:

* Two buildings initially proposed for sale, the Jenner Building and the Whittington Education Centre, will be retained.

* There will be further discussions with Islington Council planners and the community on the future of the Waterlow building and the Nurses’ Home. The trust is looking for new premises for outpatients’ physiotherapy, which is currently located on the ground floor of the Nurses’ Home.

Chief executive, Dr Yi Mien Koh, said: “The Waterlow building is empty and in a state of disrepair requiring millions of pounds of investment.

Most Read

“We will be now talking to our commissioners, Islington Council and the community to develop a planning brief on its future and possible alternative uses.

“The Nurses Home cannot remain in its current state and will be included in these conversations. This will take some time to complete and will not affect current student nurses living there.”

* There will be a £10million investment to update maternity services. This does not require the sale of the buildings, but the trust is seeking an additional £10million to expand the facilities beyond 4,000 births a year.

Whittington divisional director for women, children and families and consultant obstetrician, Friedericke Eben, said: “We are looking to improve and grow our popular maternity services.

“We are already talking to both mums who’ve used our service and future mums on how they would like the £10 million spent on upgrading the facilities. We have exciting plans for the future and hope to secure further investment to expand our service.”

* The trust has said it has “no plans to change the overall number of beds”.

Dr Greg Battle, Whittington Health’s medical director for integrated care and a local GP, said: “Regarding hospital beds, we have reviewed our bed requirements and will retain the overall number of beds while they are needed and commissioned - to ensure patients are treated within national standards and to meet future needs.”

* The trust has also said there will be “no significant reduction in its workforce”.

Whittington Health staff, director of organisational development, Jo Ridgway, said: “Over the next few months, we will be reviewing the skills mix of our staff, but we envisage no significant reduction to our permanent staff over the next five years.”

The board’s revised five-year clinical strategy, named Transforming Healthcare for Tomorrow, will be discussed at the next board meeting on July 24.

Dr Mien Koh, said: “This has been a genuine listening exercise. I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave us their views.

“Concerns were raised on four key issues - moving care closer to home, the sale of buildings, reduction in wards and our staff.

“We have listened and have made major changes to our plans.

“We believe our strategy of better coordinated care designed around individual patient’s needs is right.

“We will continue our pioneering work in this field to provide high quality care to all our patients and service users.”

More details of the revised proposals changes can be found at www.whittington.nhs.uk/ourfuture