London

Whittington Hospital cuts: Protesters march

Protesters on the March
Image caption The hospital says its buildings are old and expensive to maintain

Up to 1,500 protesters have taken part in a march against planned cutbacks at a north London hospital.

Whittington Hospital in Archway is selling six blocks used as wards and staff accommodation, to raise £17m.

It said some services being lost will be provided by other health centres. The Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition said this would mean 230 fewer beds and the loss of 570 jobs.

The march started at Highbury Corner and ended at the hospital.

The changes, detailed in the Estates Strategy report, include:

  • In-patient wards to be closed and beds for the elderly and new parents axed
  • All NHS staff accommodation to be closed and sold off
  • Births at the hospital to be capped to 4,000 a year

'Must be fought'

Shirley Franklin, chair of Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: "Sick people need to know they will be taken care of when they are at their most vulnerable.

"The hospital's board argues people don't want to be in hospital but privatised community care with underpaid staff with insufficient time to treat their patients is not the answer.

"This is symptomatic of the government's cuts to our health services and must be fought."

The Whittington Health Trust Board said the old buildings were expensive to maintain and it planned to modernise infrastructure.

'Survive and thrive'

It said that in the next five years, it would invest £10m on maternity services, £2.8m on a new assessment centre, £1.9m on a new education centre and £7m would be spent on an electronic patient record system.

The trust's chairman Joe Liddane said: "We know the local people feel very strongly about the services here and we share that strength of feeling.

"Our plans are about investing in services so out hospital continues to survive and thrive over the coming years."

In 2010, the hospital's plan to close its A&E department was stopped by the then health secretary, Andy Burnham.

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