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Statement by DWHC chair Shirley Franklin

January 28th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Whittington Sell-off Campaign.  Some reflections


In July 2013 we stopped the sell-off of most of the buildings and jobs, and all the beds at the Whittington Hospital. Amazing! Three years ago we saved the Accident and Emergency and other departments, but this sell-off is a far bigger challenge to overcome. With the current talk in Board Meetings of cuts and efficiencies, we still have a way to go. Does the revised plan even still hold?

The problem for the Whittington Hospital is that under the destructive 2012 Health and Social Care legislation all hospitals have to become Foundation Trusts – independent hospitals, like business units, that can be taken over by a private company.

The Board of the Whittington Hospital made an appalling first application to become a Foundation Trust, massively reducing the operation of the Hospital as a proper fully-functioning hospital. They did not tell or consult with consulted with anyone. The Board took the decision to agree to these disgraceful proposals in a mere five minutes. They presented their plans as a fait accomplis, that no-one else could do anything about.

Our campaign has been relentless. The stop the sell off message sped across the community via our Coalition, through our mass leafleting and petitioning.

We held a huge public meeting, a demonstration and lobbied the Board at their monthly meetings. Our coalition includes hospital and local trade unions, who have financially and actively supported the campaign. We also have local political parties, MPs, other campaign groups, Hospital staff and patients and local newspapers. Islington MP, Jeremy Corbyn, asked several awkward parliamentary questions to the Minister of Health. This coalition of various groups has been vital in our success.

The Board has behaved very strangely. They produced their totally unacceptable plan, that they now admit was completely inappropriate. Funnily, we could see that they really did not like our stop the sell off slogan, our fab demonstration cat banner and placards – our whole visual as well as vocal campaign. We are now wondering how it is that having disposed of Joe Liddane, who stage-managed these shenanigans, the Chief Executive of the hospital, Li Mien Koh, is still in post

There are issues that remain. We are very concerned that the new model is based on early discharge of patients in our area that has a population of high levels of needs. We all know what is happening to social care under this Government.

We are also concerned about jobs that seemed to have been reduced by over 100.

We want to thank everyone who helped in our recent victory. But there is still more to do, locally and nationally.

Whose Hospital? Our Hospital. Whose NHS? Our NHS!

Shirley Franklin, January 2014

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