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Why We Won the Whittington

May 5th, 2010 Comments off


There is no doubt that the victory over the U-turns of the Labour Secretary of State for Health is very largely the result of our non-party campaign to Defend and save the Accident and Emergency, Maternity, Trauma and Paediatric Services at the Whittington Hospital, and to oppose privatisation and cuts in any other NHS hospital.

Our role was crucial for the following reasons: it was a united non-party campaign of residents, hospital workers and other trade unionists – Our Hospital, Your Jobs – and representation from other local campaigns and political parties.

Almost everyone we spoke to supported our campaign. We got at least 16,000 signatures through leafleting and talking to thousands of local people. The popularity of this campaign made it a hot election issue, where all mainstream political parties wanted to be involved – some more directly involved with us than others. The local press supported the campaign and the Islington Tribune, in particular, played a huge role in helping us to build for our march.

We organised a stunning march on 27th February, where 5,000 people demonstrated their opposition. This was the biggest local march for decades, and probably the biggest ever march for a hospital. This was also the major turning point as it got massive media coverage. We organised a public meeting to launch our forthcoming day of action and rally, on Thursday 29th April, one week before the general election. Having asked several leaders of political parties and their spokespeople to speak, only Andrew Lansley, Tory Shadow Health Minister accepted the invitation.

At this point the Conservatives, Greens and Liberal Democrats had said that they wanted to scrap the review. Emily Thornberry is in a marginal seat. She has supported the campaign and been pressurising Andy Burnham, Labour Health Secretary, who had previously supported the PCT review. After Andrew Lansley accepted our invitation, Andy Burnham told Emily Thornberry on Tuesday 27th April that he had changed his mind, that he did not wish the A and E to close (Since then Shirley has received (on 29th April) an email from Mike O’Brien who claims that he too supports the A and E, and that the papers were only part of a discussion not proposals (a term used by Rachel Tyndall, chief Exec of the north Central London PCT).

We won because we established a mass campaign, one that was initiated by Jeremy Corbyn in Islington and later by Lynne Featherstone, in Hornsey and Wood Green, which also included hospital workers. We won because we timed it right during the election period. We won because we are cross-party, we got the right political and people. We won because we worked our guts out, we talked to loads and loads of people, had a great website, Facebook and email list and visual identity.

But this is not the end. We hope this victory isn’t an electoral gimmick. Will they stick to their promises? Who will win the election will determine what happens and what is cut next? In health terms, the cuts have already happened to the Cinderella of the Health Service, mental health.

We are considering spearheading a London-wide campaign. What’s next: On Monday 10th May we will be holding a public meeting to decide where we go, what we do next. We might be thinking about leading a London-wide campaign. Please join us at the Whittington Community Centre, Yerbury Road, N19 at 7.00 pm

Shirley Franklin
Chair of the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition


Addendum from Dave Plummer:

With perfectly bad timing my PC was struck by a virus over the weekend, hence the lack of updates and emails etc. Sorry about that. I’ve sorted it out now and will be updating the site over the next few days with links to press articles, TV coverage etc.


A brief report of tonight’s meeting

March 23rd, 2010 No comments

This is a very brief report. More detail will follow over the next few of days.

Over 100 people attended the fantastic meeting tonight where we discussed plans for the next stage of the campaign. The main focus will be a day of action on Thursday 29th April, one week before the probable general election date. The day of action has been arranged for a weekday so that people who work in the areas served by the Whittington can participate in their workplaces. There will also be a rally between 12.00 and 14.00 om the day.

We are going to attend the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) demonstration outside Parliament at 11.00 on Wednesday 24th March. Local PCS branches officially support the campaign and this is a good opportunity to get the attention of politicians and highlight the connections between the Whittington campaign and that of the wider Public Sector.

Rachel Tyndall will be attending a meeting at Islington Town Hall on Monday 29th March. We should have a delegation at the meeting. Placards outside at 19.00 then in to the meeting at 19.30.

There was much discussion from the floor and Jeremy Corbyn provided an update about activities in Parliament.

Islingtonnow tweeted from the meeting (and blew my attempts out of the water.) You can read their live account of the meeting here.

Much more was discussed and minutes from the meeting will be on the site soon.

Sorry for the  somewhat perfunctory nature of this post: your web chap is very , very tired.

Videos and a reminder

March 21st, 2010 No comments

This is a brilliant video by Sarah Mills documenting the campaign up to the march on 27th February.

The BBC have footage of Lynne Featherstone’s Westminster Hall debate, ‘London Hospitals’, from 17th March 2010 (a transcription from TheyWorkForYou was posted here the other day.). It includes contributions from Jeremy Corbyn, Health Minister Mike O’Brien and MPs from around London. At 1hr 30mins there’s quite a lot to get through but it’s well worth a watch if you have the time.

It’s available on the BBC site here.

Please remember to get along to tomorrow’s meeting if you can, 19.00 at the Whittington Park Community Centre. There are more details here.

New Poster, Early Day Motion, Islington NHS Statistics

March 19th, 2010 No comments
Poster

We have a new poster available for download and popping in your window, on your car’s back shelf, printing on vinyl and using to cover an umbrella… Whittington Poster

Jeremy Corbyn’s Early Day Motion (EDM 87) has so far been signed by only 19 MPs. If your MP hasn’t signed it yet please ask them to! You can get find you MP and send them an email directly from  Theyworkforyou.com.

Early Day Motion

EDM 87 WHITTINGTON HOSPITAL 18.11.2009 Corbyn, Jeremy 19 signatures

Abbott, Diane         Clark, Katy         Cohen, Harry
Cryer, Ann         Dobson, Frank         Featherstone, Lynne
Gerrard, Neil         Hoey, Kate         Hopkins, Kelvin
Illsley, Eric         Jackson, Glenda         Jenkins, Brian
McDonnell, John         Meale, Alan         Simpson, Alan
Thornberry, Emily         Wareing, Robert N         Wyatt, Derek

That this House recognises the Whittington Hospital is a valuable asset to healthcare in North London and has recently undergone a major rebuilding programme; notes that the Whittington receives into its accident and emergency department alone approximately 80,000 patients annually and offers accessible services including maternity, neo-natal, cancer, day surgery and more; is very concerned to hear ongoing talk of a threat to or merger of any of the Whittington’s major services with the Royal Free Hospital, thereby reducing the viability of the Whittington’s continued existence as a separate institution, and of its services to local people in Islington, Haringey and Camden; and calls upon NHS London to ensure the continued existence of the Whittington Hospital inclusive of its major services.

The Early Day Motion itself is online here: EDM 87.

We have the advantage that there is an election coming. Unfortunately all the major parties have threatened to slash public sector spending. We have to remind them who pays who’s wages and convince them that healthcare, along with other public services, is more important than the Trident replacement.

Islington NHS Statistics

We have received a copy of Islngton NHS’s 2009 report ‘Health Facts For Islington’ which makes for interesting reading. It’s on site here: Health in Islington – The Facts.

Remember to come along to the meeting on Monday where we will be discussing the next steps of the campaign and, if it’s your sort of thing, to join our Facebook group and follow us on Twitter (links are on the right of this page.)

Lynne Featherstone’s Westminster Hall Debate 17/03/2010

March 18th, 2010 No comments

Lynne Featherstone (Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green) secured a Westminster Hall debate about London Hospitals, with special reference to the Whittington. The debate includes contributions from Jeremy Corbyn (Labour, Islington North) and MPs from all the major parties and across London.

The full debate can be read at They Work For You.

I’m sorry this site hasn’t been updated for a while. I’ve been quite spectacularly busy but will try to get more content up over the next few days.

Please remember to come along to the campaign meeting on Monday.

Videos, Slideshows and Podcasts by Cincopa Wordpress Plugin


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