The Independent London Newspaper


‘The NHS may be under threat but Whittington Hospital’s future is safe’

Dr Ben Timmis was honoured by colleagues at the Whittington last week

Consultant who fought to save hospital retires, leaving it in ‘fantasitc shape’

Published: 17th December, 2010

ONE of the Whittington Hospital’s most respec­ted consultants, who played a key role in the campaign to save the hospital’s accident and emergency department, has retired after 26 years.

Consultant radiologist and medical director Dr Ben Timmis said he had “mixed emotions” about his retirement, but he was leaving a hospital in “fantastic shape”.

He told the Tribune: “While the future of NHS is uncertain, I will not be losing any sleep over the future of the Whittington. 

“It is going to be tough – budgets are being cut. But I am happy because I know how skillful our clinicians are and that we have quality management. 

“Everyone living around here is lucky to have such an excellent local hospital.”

In March, Dr Timmis organised a petition of more than 100 Whittington consultants condemning proposals to axe the hospital’s accident and emergency department earlier this year.

It was the first time in more than 25 years that Whittington consultants had spoken out publicly against government health reforms.

He said: “What was really brilliant about that was that it basically led to the hospital being saved. We were able to send out a very clear message that the plan was not in the best interests of patients. It was an achievement – and fun at times. It was gratifying to spend my last year at the Whittington protecting the A&E from the people that were trying to run it down.”

He added: “I appreciate all the efforts from the local press who helped the campaign – they didn’t use it as a handle to beat up the NHS.”

Dr Timmis was given a This is Your Life-style send-off in the Archway hospital’s imaging department last Thursday. 

Around 80 colleagues and friends attended to hear speeches and to present him with gifts including an Arsenal Football Club dressing gown and slippers and a painting of Whittington Cat designs he created 15 years ago.

Dr David Grant, a consultant radiologist, gave a speech that outlined the achievements and innovations Dr Timmis brought to the hospital, including his department’s first CT scanner.

Colleague Jane Young read out a story that summarised Ben’s career in the style of a Winnie the Pooh story. 

A plaque was put up outside his former department renaming it “Timmis Terrace”.

Mr Timmis, who lives in East Finchley, qualified as a doctor from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and later achieved his higher qualifications in radiology before being appointed as a consultant radiologist to the Whittington and Royal Northern Hospitals in London in 1984.

Within a year of appointment, he was voted by colleagues to the Chair of the Division of Radiology.

Two years later he became chairman of the hospital’s Consultant Medical Committee, before being appointed medical director of the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust – a post he held for 4 years before returning to Clinical Radiology.

A Whittington Hos­pital spokesman said: “Ben has always put patients at the centre of everything he does and he implored everyone present to ensure the hospital remains a patient-focused institution.”


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