Whittington protesters plan day of action

THE fight to save Whittington Hospital's A&E is steaming ahead with campaigners planning a day of action ahead of the general election. Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition campaigners have earmarked Thursday April 29 – a week before the

Tan Parsons

THE fight to save Whittington Hospital's A&E is steaming ahead with campaigners planning a day of action ahead of the general election.

Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition campaigners have earmarked Thursday April 29 - a week before the expected election - to hold a series of events to fight the threatened cuts.

These include a rally outside the hospital to engage with staff, a series of stunts with residents and their pets wrapped in mock bandages, hustings for local political candidates and lobbying of primary care trusts. Other suggestions included baking cakes, holding a party and making a quilt.


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The coalition gathered on Monday at the Whittington Community Centre in Yerbury Road, Holloway, to plot the next stage of its battle plan.

Jacky Davis, a member of the London Regional Council for the British Medical Association and a Whittington doctor, said: "I think we've made a real impact so far.

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"The people who work at the Whittington have been overwhelmed by the support the hospital has been shown.

"I'm going to say again: it's not just the Whittington that's being picked on, it's everyone."

She urged campaigners to stage the rally to encourage staff to speak out against any closure plans.

Last week, an extraordinary statement was issued on behalf of all Whittington doctors - condemning any move to cut their A&E services.

The statement - combined with Health Minister Mike O'Brien's recent statement that there was no obvious need for the A&E to close - is seen as a hammer blow to North Central London NHS (NCLNHS) bosses.

NCLNHS wants to save �560million by 2016/17.

But Ms Davis cast doubt on its estimate that about 50 per cent of A&E patients could be treated at community polyclinics.

If 60 per cent of the hospital's A&E patients and half of its outpatients were instead treated at polyclinics, the Whittington would not be able to survive, she added.

"The politicians always muddle up reconfiguring services with saving money," Ms Davis added.

She also praised US president Barack Obama's success passing the healthcare reform bill.

"If he can do it, so can we. Yes we can," she said - a comment that drew rapturous cheers.

Union, NHS, Whittington and political party representatives also showed their support for the campaign.

A Holloway bus garage worker said that his colleagues were considering striking on the day of action, while the local branch of the teachers' union pledged �500 to the campaign.

Islington North's Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said that he wanted to compile an unedited compendium of briefly stated reasons why the A&E should not close.

This should then be handed to NCLNHS as soon as the official consultation was launched later this year, he said.

He said that it was essential to keep an A&E capable of coping with the current demand - more than 80,000 patients a year - and called for proper accountability for decisions in the five boroughs facing a healthcare reshuffle - Camden, Haringey, Islington, Barnet and Enfield.

A march to the Whittington, organised by the coalition, on Saturday February 27 attracted 5,000 protesters.

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