Socialist Worker

Health campaigners win a victory as bosses stop Whittington Hospital cuts

Activists have saved Whittington Hospital from cuts, writes Sarah Ensor

Issue No. 2362

Protesting to defend the Whittington Hospital

Protesting to defend the Whittington Hospital (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Defend Whittington Hospital Campaign (DWHC) has completely overturned NHS bosses’ plans to dismantle services and slash staff at the north London hospital.

Bosses said in a new report, “We have listened to your views and changed our plans”.

There will now be no loss of beds, no compulsory redundancies and no selloff of buildings. The maternity unit will get a £10 million refurbishment. And the redevelopment of nurses’ homes will be organised with Islington Council. 

Shirley Franklin, chair of DWHC, told Socialist Worker, “This is a fantastic victory for the campaign. When we heard their plans people were scared and angry. It galvanised support. 

“We had a huge public meeting, a demo and we lobbied and then occupied the board’s meetings. The board’s chair has now resigned.”

Dr Greg Battle, the hospital medical director, was forced to apologise for planning to slash services without knowing how that would affect local people.

A hospital board meeting last January decided to slash 293 beds, 570 staff including 220 nurses, sell off £17 million worth of buildings and limit maternity services. 

The board wanted to turn Whittington Hospital into a “Health and Social Care hospital” with services and patients pushed out into the community. 

Independence

They also wanted the hospital to become a foundation trust with more financial and management independence from the Department of Health.

Management consultants Ernst & Young were hired to design their new plans. They were paid over £3 million to come up with the plans to sack or downgrade staff in Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust last year.

In 2010 a huge local campaign forced NHS managers to back off from closing the A&E and downgrading maternity services at Whittington.

And this March thousands of demonstrators marched to the hospital demanding no selloffs or cuts.

Shirley said, “We don’t want the hospital to get away with sending patients home early either. This is an area of high mental health needs and many elderly people don’t have family to care for them.

Tory health minister Jeremy Hunt announced the closure of the A&E in Trafford Hospital, in Greater Manchester last week.

Health workers and others are now organising for the march on 29 September outside the Tory Party conference in Manchester.

Trade unions, including Unison, Unite and the GMB, are now organising transport for the march. 

 Shirley said, “We have to keep up the pressure and we’re now building for the Manchester demo—this is a fight to defend all of the NHS.” 

Join the national Save our NHS demo on Sunday 29 September outside the Tory Party Conference in Manchester. Called by Unite, Unison & GMB unions

If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

News
Tue 16 Jul 2013, 17:51 BST
Issue No. 2362
Share this article


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.