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Meeting with hospital board called off

We spent several weeks in talks with the Whittington management to arrange a meeting to hear what their latest five-year plan for the hospital will say.

We wanted the meeting – scheduled for Monday 3 June – to include as many staff and local residents as possible so that everyone would be given an opportunity to raise concerns about the direction the hospital was taking.

Previously we had submitted a list of questions about the board’s plans, and our understanding was that a purpose of the meeting was to provide some answers.

In the end, we could not agree to the set-up the management insisted on for the meeting, which would not have included a general discussion, but would have just been a management “presentation”, followed by a “breakout” session with participants separated into groups.

We felt that this was an inappropriate format, which did not allow scope for staff and residents to express their fears – and that the “breakout” session could be used to exert undue pressure on participants. We told the board that unless the set-up was changed, we would not be able to attend.

On the eve of the meeting, Joe Liddane, chair of the Whittington board, sent out a pdf of the presentation that would have been shown at the meeting. Called “Transforming healthcare for tomorrow”, and dated 5 April 2013, it says many good things about the hospital – and lists a number of achievements of which the hospital and its staff can be proud.

But what the document does not give is any detail about the selling off of buildings, reductions in the number of beds or staff redundancies. So it does not answer any of our major questions and if the meeting had gone ahead it would have achieved little.

It is great to see so many achievements listed, but what we would like to know is what will happen to them if hospital functions are reduced in the way the document suggests. If cuts and privatisation are involved, that cannot be good for us and our hospital. We still need a meeting with the board to get some assurance that this will not happen.

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