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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.


Campaign Update from Shirley Franklin, DWHC Joint Chair

February 16th, 2010 7 comments

Hi everyone,

The day of the demo looms closer so most of our activity is focusing on making it as much of a spectacle as possible.

Please note the *new route *- Assemble at *Highbury Corner at 12*, not Highbury Fields – and it will go to the front of the hospital in Magdala Avenue. Islington Tribune have hired a bus that will go ahead of the march – regs, I’m afraid.

*Mass leafleting* at Holloway Road, by Morrisons entrance *11.30 on Saturday 20th *February.

Please leaflet wherever you can and also use the petitions in hard copy and on line. You can use this leaflet for yours and others’ windows, in addition to the fab info and posters in last week’s Islington Tribune. Look forward to seeing you at the above events – especially the demonstration!

Shirley Franklin,

Joint Chair of Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition

Campaign Update: More Coverage in the Camden New Journal & BBC Radio + the Cavalcade

February 12th, 2010 No comments

This has been a busy week so probably not the best timing for the Googlemail address to decide it was no longer going to send emails. We’ve now set up a new email address at dwhc@dwhc.org.uk which we will use to send the weekly(ish) email updates. More regular updates will, as usual, be posted here on the site. You can sign up to the email list here.

DWHC joint chair Shirley Franklin was on Eddie Nestor’s  BBC Radio London this Tuesday talking about the campaign. The item starts about an hour and fourteen minutes into the programme  here (BBC iPlayer.)

The Camden New Journal have a front page story about the campaign this week, Stars Fight for Future of Hospital.

STARS of stage and screen have told how the threatened accident and emergency department at the Whittington Hospital helped their families – and how they are desperate for it not to close.

A host of famous faces have now swung behind a campaign – backed by the New Journal and our sister paper the Islington Tribune – to keep the treasured facility open.

Steve McFadden, best known as EastEnders hardman Phil Mitchell, said: “I don’t want to see the A&E close. I have used it a lot, particularly for my children as they have a fantastic children’s facility.

“The care is of a very high standard. When my daughter was a newborn baby she was ill and was admitted to the specialist children’s facility through the A&E. She stayed there for a week and the care she received was very good. The Royal Free is oversubscribed already and it’s not as if you don’t have to wait long enough to get seen.” Read more of the article Here.

The online petition reached 50 signatures this week and it looks like we’ve nearly 3000 on the paper ones.

Tomorrow’s cavalcade looks like it will be noticed! Please come along and join us at 11.30 outside The Whittington.

Please remember to join our Facebook group, sign up for the march and rally on 27th February, sign the petition, follow us on Twitter and spread the word.

DWHC: Campaign Update

January 31st, 2010 No comments

Press coverage and the public meeting of 25th January 2010

Following last Monday’s meeting there has been a fair bit of press coverage, including this article in The Guardian: Hands Off Our A&E.

There have also been a few items in the local press, many naming the DWHC. See the ‘In The Press’ section at the top of this page for more links.  Read more…

Petition

January 10th, 2010 2 comments

Please sign our online petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/dwhc/petition.html

Also, we have a hard copy available for download: Whittington petition

If you’re involved in any community activities please print a few off and try to get as many signatures as possible. The address to return petitions to is:

Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition

Whittington Park Community Centre

Yerbury Road

London

N19 4RS

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