The Independent London Newspaper


A great campaign, but our hospital battle must go on

Published: 29 October, 2010

• DEFEND the Whittington Hospital would like to add our congratulations and thanks to the Tribune for its fantastic contribution to our massive campaign that ensured the accident and emergency, maternity and paediatric departments at the Whittington are safe for the time being.

[The Tribune’s Save the Whittington campaign helped to scoop a newspaper Campaign of the Year award last week for articles published by the Tribune in conjunction with sister publication the Camden New Journal.] 

We saved those services due to the massive support from local people shown through the demonstration and the more than 25,000 signatures we collected, together with those from the Labour campaign. The Tribune played a key role by informing people of the nasty plans from our local primary care trusts and in helping to build the demonstration. You also livened the demonstration up with the jazz and speeches from the bus. Thanks.

Unfortunately, our campaign has to continue for several reasons. The vicious government attacks on the most vulnerable mean that hospital beds will be used by the elderly as services are cut back by underfunding of council services, and the rundown or closure of day centres and homes for the elderly. 

Further, the primary care trust has now increased to 44 the number of what it calls “low priority treatments” – including hysterectomies and tonsillectomies – that we cannot receive at our local hospital. 

Because of the increasing numbers of elderly and rising costs of medical equipment, there will be a national NHS funding shortfall of £4billion every year for the next five years. The Health White Paper puts all the hospital services at risk as it will be up to GPs to decide which hospital to use. 

Finally, already there are savage cuts to our mental health provision, with proposals to close more than 100 beds in this area of high need and closure of a mental health day centre on some days each week.

That is why we, along with other groups in Islington Hands Off our Public Services, went on the anti-cuts protest on October 20, and why we will continue to build a mass campaign against the atrocious and cruel cuts in health and welfare.

Chair, Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition

• ISLINGTON has a patients’ group for users of mental health services, iBUG. Why is it that there has been no word from our patient representatives about the proposals by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust to close some 100 in-patient beds on the basis of statistics which are being challenged?

It might be because iBUG has its offices in Highgate Mental Health Centre and these and its running costs are provided by the trust. It might be because iBUG’s main funding, including the £5,000 a year paid to its chairman, Peter Jones, is provided by NHS Islington, which is a partner to the proposals.  

iBUG is hardly independent in all this and its silence on this important issue seems to prove this.

Camden LINk has been very vocal in opposition to proposals by the trust to change its constitution. Islington LINk has been silent. Could this be because Mr Jones is also a committee member of Islington LINk?



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