Whittington march: campaigners young and old board Ham&High bus at hospital protest against cuts

The Ham&High double decker bus was among a crowd of thousands of people who were marching today to save the Whittington Hospital.

With a white banner draped across the old-fashioned London bus and campaigners shouting their slogans from the top deck, the march had an energetic start, despite the rain.

The bus made two stops along the two-mile route from Highbury Corner to the hospital in Magdala Avenue, to pick up anyone who wanted a unique bird’s eye view of the protest or was unable to walk.

Campaigners from the Defend the Whittington Coalition shouted “no cuts, no closures” from loudspeakers on the bus as people joined in the chant from the road.

Ham&High Editor-in-Chief Geoff Martin, who launched the newspaper’s campaign Hands off our Whittington, also took to the loudspeaker on the top deck, chanting “hospitals are for people, not for profit” to cheers from children, parents and the elderly who had boarded the bus for the march.

Linda Peanberg King, whose seven-week-old baby son, Axel, died at the Whittington after being repeatedly turned away by the hospital’s out of hours care provider Harmoni PLC, joined the protest on the bus with her husband, Alistair, and their three-year-old son, Carl.

She said: “We have nothing but good things to say about the Whittington. Both my sons were born there, but it just so happened that one died there.

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“They tried to do everything they could to save him, it was with Harmoni that there is a problem.

“The Whittington serves a big community and it’s a good hospital. I am against privatisation of the NHS and that is why I am campaigning.”

Between the two floors of the Ham&High bus, people of all ages were joining forces to save the vital local hospital - from a 92-year-old who was alive when the NHS came into existence, to a five-year-old who was born at the hospital.

Angela Sinclair, 92, joined the Ham&High bus with her daughter. The former hospital social care worker, who has been going to the Whittington for more than 30 years, has been campaigning against threats to the NHS for decades.

She said: “The hospital has done this without public consultation. It’s ridiculous. You can’t do something of public interest without consultation.

“I have always had good treatment at the Whittington though nursing isn’t what it used to be - this is one example of many. The NHS is one of the most important institutions and we have to defend it.”

Seven-year-old Madoc Barran cheered from top of the double decker bus with his two siblings, who were born at the hospital.

Braving the rain with rosy cheeks and a smile, he said: “We are here because we go to the hospital and we use the A&E. We don’t want it to close down. My brother was born here.”

His younger brother, Wilfie, added that he was cold but proudly held a placard next to his older sibling, as they joined in the march to save a hospital that has touched the lives of thousands.

Steve Cook from the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, which organised the community campaign, represented the group from

The top deck of the Ham&High bus.

His calls over the loudspeakers to “Save the Whittington” were echoed on both floors and by the crowd on the road. He said: “We’re very greatful to the newspapers for everything they’ve done to let the public know.

“There’s been a really good turn out today, despite the rain. It shows the anger and frustration of the community who’s hospital has been threatened without any consultation.”