DWHC: Local press news about Monday’s meeting.
These are two items from local papers about the meeting last Monday at Archway Methodist Church Hall and publicising the forthcoming march on 27th February.
The first is from the Islington Gazette (original article here.)
Hospital campaigners on march to save A&E
27 January 2010
THOUSANDS of people are set to take part in a massive protest rally next month to save The Whittington Hospital’s accident and emergency department from being axed.
Islington residents, patients, community campaigners and politicians from all parties are to unite to march along Holloway Road to Whittington Park, Upper Holloway, on Saturday, February 27.
They will demand that north London health chiefs abandon moves to potentially close the Archway hospital’s 24-hour emergency department as part of plans to downgrade it to “local” hospital status.
The protest, which will gather at 12noon in Highbury Fields, has been organised by newly-founded campaign umbrella group Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition.
Joint chairwoman Shirley Franklin, speaking at a 350-strong public meeting on Monday, said: “People are horrified and terrified – the bottom line is keep the A&E open as it is. We need you not just to bring yourselves but bring your whole street. We really need to make this as big as possible.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, who will present a series of petitions to the Health Minister days after the rally, said: “People are very worried about the future of the NHS in this borough. We need a very big turnout to convince the people in charge that we are absolutely determined to defend, protect and save our local A&E department. That’s why we’re going to win.”
Earlier Rachel Tyndall, chief executive of North Central London NHS, told a packed Archway Methodist Hall that cuts to her budget from central Government were inevitable – regardless of the outcome of the looming General Election. She said: “If we have The Whittington running as it is at a cost of £180million a year we’ll have to choose not to have other health services running elsewhere in north London because the amount of money is finite.”
A public consultation will be launched in September with three future options for The Whittington – but only one will see the A&E stay open.
Ms Tyndall argued 70 per cent of The Whittington’s A&E patients could be treated in new urgent care centres and polyclinics, the first of which is set to open in Islington in April. She pledged to talk to Whittington staff over allegations they had become increasingly demoralised in recent months and promised a survey would be carried out into ambulance and car journey times to neighbouring hospitals such as UCH, in Euston.
But many campaigners see it as inevitable that the loss of maternity, neo-natal and intensive care services will follow if The Whittington’s A&E is forced to close – and fear standards and quality of care will plummet in the aftermath.
On Tuesday, Islington Council’s Liberal Democrat leader Terry Stacey pledged his support to next month’s protest march, saying: “We’ve been knocking on doors and we’ve already gathered thousands of signatures for our petition. We’ve had contact with the Coalition and we’ll be there in Highbury Fields.
This is from the Haringey Advertiser. The original article is here.
Cost-cutting health plans author faces torrent of abuse
Haringey Advertiser – Wednesday, 27 January 2010
OUTRAGED residents bombarded health chiefs with questions during a packed-out meeting to discuss “disgusting” proposals to scrap accident and emergency department at The Whittington Hospital.
Bosses behind a leaked letter which set out proposals to remove a 24-hour A&E at the hospital in Highgate Hill faced a two-hour interrogation from more than 300 concerned residents, hospital workers, campaigners and politicians who flocked to Archway Methodist Church Hall on Monday evening.
Former health secretary Frank Dobson was among those pledging unwavering support to the campaign which has snowballed since the proposals were leaked in November.
Richard Greening, of Islington Labour group, directly challenged the panel of health bosses which included the author of the leaked letter – Rachel Tyndall, chief executive of the North Central London NHS division.
He told her: “We will use every single part of the powers invested in us to stop you closing that A&E. That money is ours – not yours.
“We only know about these plans because they were leaked by a member of The Whittington staff who was deeply concerned about what they knew was an evolving plan by NHS bureaucrats.
“They felt you were leading us down this road to an A&E department which should be free at the point of access – but the problem is you may die on the way to accessing it.”
Fears have been raised that A&E departments at neighbouring hospitals will be swamped and lives endangered, particularly those of elderly and vulnerable people living in Haringey which has no major hospital within its borders.
Speakers also expressed anger that polyclinics designed to treat people “locally and cheaply” are merely a sweetener in plans for the mass closure of general hospitals across north London.
There was also concern about NHS services being farmed out to profit-hungry private companies. And many believe the closure of the Whittington’s A&E would sound the death knell for other services at the hospital.
Sean Vernell, TUC representative based at Islington College, said: “Efficiency, savings – every word is being used except cuts. There is a real smell of dishonesty about this. We are not stupid, we’ve been around the block. These polyclinics are untried and untested so why haven’t we put the money spent on these into the A&E?”
Paul Brandon, a TUC representative from Holloway bus garage, said: “I could spend an hour telling you about times my colleagues and passengers too have needed The Whittington after being injured. This isn’t about value for money – we all know this is about cuts.”
Members of the Defend The Whittington Coalition urged people to get involved in the campaign and take part in a mass demonstration past the hospital on February 27.
Gesturing to the panel of health chiefs, joint chairwoman Shirley Franklin said: “It seems only four people in this room actually support this. We need to get the message out to people in all the affected boroughs just what these disgusting proposals are about.
“Don’t just bring yourself, bring your entire street, your family all your workmates. These are terrible, terrible proposals. People are horrified and terrified.”
But Ms Tyndall repeatedly insisted no decisions have yet been made over the hospital’s future and that a full consultation process would take place once options had been decided.
When questioned on the wisdom of drafting proposals before the general and local elections, she said: “We are mindful that whatever government there is, the money that is going to be available to the NHS is going to be less in the future than we have been used to.
“Whatever the colour of that government we can anticipate that all public services will go through a time of constrained money.
“While we have no control over that, what we do have is a responsibility to use this money, taxpayers’ money, to the best possible effect. We are going to have to make difficult decisions.”
She added there was “still some way” to go until a formal three-month public consultation period but insisted everyone would get their say.
Frank Dobson MP, who has campaigned to retain services at The Whittington in the past, told the packed-out hall: “I take the idea of The Whittington being run down very personally.
“Many people will find it difficult to access services further away if the Whittington’s A&E closes – and the most vulnerable people will find it most difficult.
“The services are already there, they have been paid for, this is why this whole thing makes no sense. I’m supporting everything that’s being done and I will continue to do so.”
Islington TUC president Gary Heather closed the meeting with a rousing speech.
He said: “While Rachel and her colleagues have said no decision has been made, I think we can see from tonight that this is clearly in their minds. We need to give a clear message that we’ll be mobilising to defend health services in all these
“If you think this is a big turnout and a raucous meeting, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
A demonstration against the proposals will take place on February 27, with campaigners assembling in Highbury Field in Highbury at midday.