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You have say on hospital ward closure

PUBLISHED: 12:18 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:47 07 September 2010

The Ham&High mailbox has been flooded with comments from anxious residents concerned about proposals to close the Whittington A&E unit, while local dignitaries and community figures have swept in to help fight the plans. The proposals were first uncovered

The Ham&High mailbox has been flooded with comments from anxious residents concerned about proposals to close the Whittington A&E unit, while local dignitaries and community figures have swept in to help fight the plans.

The proposals were first uncovered in November when a letter sent to NHS staff detailing plans to reshuffle services indicated that the Whittington would be left with no A&E department or specialist services. The Ham&High petition, which is available online and in hard copy, has attracted many comments from upset residents.

Angela Filmer said: "Most people who use this service can access it by walking, or taking one bus or one tube in under 20 minutes. The proposed alternatives involve far more difficult jouneys that take at least an hour. The demand for ambulaces will shoot up."

Lynne Woolams wants to save 'the local hospital'. "Travelling from Hornsey to another hospital in the event of an emergency would be horrendous. Traffic is heavy. The journey to the North Middlesex takes me on the A10 and A406 and is stressful."

Geoffrey Ferris believes all A&E departments must continue to have 24/7 coverage to be totally effective. ''And they are the training ground in teaching hospitals for intern doctors who will eventually become highly skilled surgeons," he said.

Helen Bantock said: "The loss of the A&E at the Whittington would lead to loss of life and suffering. Travelling to the Royal Free would be inconvenient to say the least. I see they plan job cuts - how would they cope with additional emergency cases?"

Raj Kara-Rajani, of Highgate Food and Wine, said: "We've got a petition in the shop and we are collecting signatures. I am a local resident and so naturally I'm very concerned - I've been to the A&E department a few times. In these things the people making decisions hear what you're saying but sadly they don't listen."

Highgate's Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre manager John Plews says the proposals are 'outrageous'. "The A&E is at least as important as any other hospital department. I've been to there twice and the treatment I had was excellent. I don't want to think what could have happened if I had had a long bumpy journey to another hospital 20 minutes away. It's vitally important to have A&E within easy reach. Most people in Highgate feel the same - it's another service and the more services you lose the less of a community you have. Losing the post office wasn't a matter of life and death, but with an A&E unit it could be. We have a great history in our health service in this country and we need to keep it - not get rid of it."

Crouch End councillor David Winskill criticised health chiefs for their secrecy. "It's just incredible that the North Central London review team didn't go out of their way to start briefing people about this as soon as it could. They have produced a hostile and suspicious response to virtually anything they do - they should have been up front from the beginning.''

Janet Shapiro, a Muswell Hill campaigner, said: "There is lots of research that shows that these district hospitals play a crucial role in keeping our population safe. Although we do need these super centres, the acute A&Es for particular things, we absolutely need the back up - the back up is as important as the acute care. It's very important that people go to the march to support the Whittington."

Pranay Bhakta of Muswell Hill had a stark message: "I'm seriously worried. I think this puts a lot of people at risk,'' she said.

Adam Hypki from NW5 said: "My extended family have all used the A&E at the Whittington for 40 years and more. Any other hospital would be an absolute misery to get to quickly. Shouldn't 'quickly' be the operative word when it comes to an accident or emergency?''

Eva Papathomas of N3 went straight to the point: "Simply put, this A&E cannot be closed,'' she said.

A protest march will take place on Saturday February 27 from noon between Highbury Fields in Islington and the Whittington.

o MP Lynne Featherstone hosts a public meeting on March 4 at Greig City Academy in Hornsey from 8pm. Rachel Tyndall, chairwoman of the North Central London Review Panel and Richard Sumray, NHS Haringey chairman will attend.

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