Victory – but still more work for the coalition
The coalition of residents, patients, hospital staff, trade unions, local politicians and celebs that came together to defend our hospital will not be broken up in the wake of the Whittington board’s recent U-turn on its plans – which we vigorously opposed – for building sell-offs, ward closures and job cuts.
The hospital board has now opted for a bigger operation, with a faster turnover of patients – and early discharge.
We welcome the board’s decision to ditch its earlier plans – hailed as a victory for the coalition – and its promise of expansion. But the latest moves are not without concern.
For example, the early discharge proposal is heavily reliant on social care by local councils. But the hospital serves a community that includes a lot of vulnerable people – an increasingly elderly population, many lone parents, a high number of people with mental health issues and high poverty rates.
There are simply not enough staff to support these people. They will be badly hit – and the situation made many times worse – by the the withdrawal of social care funding under the government’s austerity measures.
For more details of the campaign, and a list of future actions, visit the “What’s coming up” section of the website.
To join the campaign, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on facebook – and you can still add your name to our petition calling on the hospital management to stop the sell-off and cuts.
Support for NHS protest at Tory conference in Manchester
Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition activists were among 100,000 protesters who demonstrated in Manchester on Sunday 29 September as Conservative party delegates gathered in the city for the start of their annual conference.
The Save Our NHS protest was backed by health service unions whose members work at the Whittington – and organised by the TUC, whose general secretary Frances O’Grady told the marchers at a rally in the centre of Manchester that the NHS was facing the gravest crisis in its history.
“After promising there would be no top-down re-organisation, the government is wasting billions implementing reforms nobody wants and nobody voted for,” she said.
“The Prime Minister said NHS spending would be protected, but we’re seeing increased rationing of treatments, rising waiting lists, a growing number of closures and accident and emergency wards in disarray.
“In the last three months alone 21,000 NHS employees have lost their jobs, and those nurses, doctors and other health professionals that remain feel that no-one is listening to them and that they are being asked to achieve more with less.”
The DWHC contingent, which had set off in a coach from Archway early on Sunday morning, arrived in Manchester just as the march was about to begin.
But the number of NHS supporters’ coaches far exceeded the expectations of the organisers and the police, who were also taken by surprise, had to revise plans to find sufficient parking places for the coaches. As a result, the start of the march was delayed as the extra tens of thousands of protesters took longer to line up with their banners.
After setting off, the march wound its way through central Manchester – and past the conference centre where the Tories were meeting, guarded by the private G4S security firm and armed police.
Cries of “they say cutback, we say fightback,” greeted arriving Tory delegates as the protesters approached the conference centre.
Former Whittington hospital consultant Jacky Davis, who was at the rally with a contingent from London Keep Our NHS Public, said there were more hard-working people outside the conference protesting than the number of delegates inside it. She complained that the BBC had been banned from filming the march, so that TV viewers wouldn’t be aware of the scale of the protest.
Campaigners take message to Downing Street
Thousands of marchers converged on Whitehall on Saturday 18 May in a big demonstration of support for the Defend London’s NHS campaign.
Many of us from the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition were at the head of the march, which brought together campaigners from across London, as it set off from the South Bank to Downing Street. Our Shirley Franklin, chair of DWHC, told the marchers what had been happening at the Whittington just before the start. See the video here.
Jacky Davis, Whittington consultant and British Medical Association council member, called on the government to halt the assault on the NHS which is putting hospitals in danger.
Commenting on the huge turnout for the march, which some estimated at more than 10,000, she said: “We are the government’s biggest nightmare. This is just the beginning of the fight for the NHS”
The rally in Whitehall was addressed by Camden Keep Our NHS Public chair Candy Udwin, and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn, before a letter was handed in to 10 Downing Street saying that the closure of nine A&E units across London, a number of maternity units and thousands of hospital beds will put Londoners’ lives at risk.
The letter said: “We support a National Health Service which is publicly funded, publicly delivered and publicly accountable, delivering care according to need and free at the time of access, to everyone irrespective of personal wealth.
“We are calling on the Prime Minister for an immediate end to the closures and privatisation threats to London’s NHS.”
Candy Udwin said that the NHS is facing the biggest threat to its existence since it was founded 65 years ago.
“The demonstration today is just a start,” she said. “A national campaign is urgently needed if we are to save the NHS.
“We are calling on trade unions, political parties and all those who care about the NHS to set a date for a national demonstration.”