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Whittington staff speak out about A&E closure

PUBLISHED: 11:46 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:47 07 September 2010

With the future of the Whittington Hospital at stake medics have contacted the Ham&High this week to speak out against the plans to close the A&E department. Staff at the Archway hospital have been reluctant to speak out fearing their jobs may be on the l

With the future of the Whittington Hospital at stake medics have contacted the Ham&High this week to speak out against the plans to close the A&E department.

Staff at the Archway hospital have been reluctant to speak out fearing their jobs may be on the line but have contacted the Ham&High this week on condition of anonymity.

The Ham&High also understands the staff are mobilising into a unified force and will soon appoint a spokesman who speak out on their behalf.

Here are their comments in full.

A senior consultant at the Whittington said: "Closure of the A and E service at the Whittington would have a devastating effect on the health care of the local people and be the death of the Whittington. None of the alternative models proposed by Health Care for London include adequate A and E provision for the often very ill and or vulnerable people who currently attend this casualty. The A and E Department is the front door of an active, vibrant hospital where a range of services ensure good care to whom so ever is admitted. Admission to hospital is often frightening, and can be dangerous, but admission to the Whittington hospital means patients are more likely to survive and return home than in most hospitals across the UK - this is reflected in our standardised mortality rates. We are able to achieve this because of the range of excellent clinical services currently offered by the Whittington, which support and complement those of the A and E Department. Many of these services have evolved and developed over time to ensure we meet the needs of the local population, and are the result of years of careful working with primary and tertiary care, community services and the people we are here to look after. Many of these services have been cited nationally as models of excellence and consistently demonstrate good outcomes in national audits of care. Removal of the A and E from the front door would mean acute medical and surgical services would be lost, and thereby anaesthetic support. ITU would follow making it impossible to deliver safe services for men, women and children. It is ironic, that in a year when we are told that minimising the inequalities in health care, which reflect social inequalities, is a national priority, that the Whittington, which serves many wards with high social deprivation ratings so effectively, is under threat with closure of the A and E Department and all that follows. Health Care for London tells us that the proposed models are safe but can provide no data to support this since there are none. This is a cost saving exercise which we do not support since it is not in the best interest of our local population."

"The Emergency Department at the Whittington sees over 240 patients a day, the vast majority of whom need care provided by doctors trained in managing people with undifferentiated illness and injuries. This service cannot be provided in the community or by a polyclinic (GPs do not have the appropriate training and are already overwhelmed by their current workload). The most seriously unwell patients often come to A&E at night. Downgrading the A&E, fragmenting acute and emergency care, or reducing it to a 16 hour (rather than 24 hour) service will pose a huge risk to the safety of our local population,. The focus of NHS London instead should be on how to strengthen this service so we can continue to provide and improve care for the most needy at their greatest time of need."

From a senior doctor at the Whittington.

"The proposed closure of the Whittington A and E is about saving money - not saving lives. It will be the beginning of a downward spiral of service cuts and our local population will be disadvantaged even further. The Government's recently commissioned report ' Fair Society, Healthy Lives' highlights the ever increasing gap between the rich and poor and the effects on their health - so this closure does not make sense.

This hospital provides excellent training to the next generation of nurses doctors and healthcare workers recruiting from our local population.. Closure of the A and E will affect this too.

The Whittington delivers top quality services to our diverse and significantly deprived local population where they need it - close to home."

From a member of staff at the Whittington.

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