More than 600 angry campaigners met in Archway, north London, on Tuesday to save Whittington Hospital and called a demonstration next month. NHS managers plan to sell off £17 million worth of buildings and sack 570 staff. Local Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn chaired the meeting, which was also attended by local Labour MPs Emily Thornberry, Frank Dobson and David Lammy and author Owen Jones.
Shirley Franklin, joint chair of Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition which called the meeting, told Socialist Worker, “We’ve had a phenomenal response because when people’s health facilities are assaulted they are anxious and angry. The board admits to paying Unipart at least £500,000 to cut costs—Unipart is there now on the top floor of the hospital.
“The health unions Unite, GMB and Unison have all contacted us and I’ve had lots of emails from staff saying they’re being intimidated and bullied.”
Frank Dobson told the meeting that neither he nor the other local Labour MPs knew anything about it, until they read about it in the local paper. He also pointed out that the hospital grounds are zoned for health so it’s likely that the land and buildings will be sold off to private health care companies.
Hospital chief executive Dr Yi Mien Koh came to the meeting with about ten other officials. She claimed the board hadn’t meant to hide the cuts plan.
In 2010 a huge local campaign forced NHS managers to back off from closing the A&E and downgrading maternity services.
A consultant told the meeting that all the staff are needed to guarantee patient safety and that if the cuts happen it could cause another Mid Staffordshire disaster.
The meeting voted to tell the board to back down and called a demonstration in north London.
Lobby Whittington Hospital Trust Board, 2pm-5pm Wednesday 27 February
Demonstrate on Saturday 16 March.