The Independent London Newspaper

 

Health Minister finds it "difficult to accept" need to close Whittington A&E

Hospital protesters
THURSDAY MARCH 18, 2010

By TOM FOOT
 
THE health services minister has reiterated his “strong concerns” over plans to shut the Whittington Hospital's Accident and Emergency department.
Mike O'Brien told a Westminster Hall debate last night he would “find it difficult to accept” any case for closure.
 
His comments come as all Whittington consultants signed a joint letter condemning the proposals.
 
Mr O'Brien told the Commons: “We have invested £30 million in it [Whittington], and we want to ensure that the hospital continues to develop. I have seen no evidence that A and E at Whittington should close. I would want to see a good clinical case – I have never seen one-for closing it. We want to ensure that it can continue to develop for the people of London. We will ensure that any case is looked at with care. I am sceptical about closing A and E at Whittington, and I would find it difficult to accept the case for that to occur.”
 
It is the second strongly-worded statement from the health minister since around 5,000 protesters took to the streets in support of the hospital.
 
Wednesday's debate – the second time the future of the Whittington has reached the House of Commons – was called by Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who has campaigned against the closure plans alongside Labour MP for Islington North Jeremy Corbyn.
 
A massive campaign was launched after a plan to shut down sections of the Whittington Hospital – including its A&E, intensive care and maternity units – emerged in November.
 
This afternoon, Whittington consultants issued their first joint statement condemning the proposals.
It said: "We have no doubt that retaining a full accident and emergency at The Whittington is in the best interests of the people in North Central London. We are immensely proud of the excellent emergency services that we offer to our local people, and we are determined that they should continue."
 
The Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition campaign group has called a public meeting in the Whittington Park Community Centre in Yerbury Road on Monday.
 
For more information visit dwhc.org.uk

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