Whittington update

A letter has arrived from Rachel Tyndall, Chief Exec of North Central London NHS, responding to local objections to the threatened closure of the Whittington A&E.

Basically it tells us to watch this space: “There are no plans in place to make changes to these services… a review of services across North Central London is underway…. our analysis is at an early stage and we are a long way from having firm proposals. [The review] will see more care provided closer to where people live, and some specialist services being centralised…much of the routine care currently provided in hospital settings will in future be delivered in community locations, such as general practice and polyclinics…. This shift in activity away from traditional hospital settings will allow hospitals in future to focus on what they do best and to operate more efficiently.”

If that means you can have your ingrowing toenail tackled by your GP instead of having to go to hospital, that’s fine. If it means closing our A&E, providing more efficiency for the NHS at the expense of patients, then it’s totally unacceptable.

The real agenda is less about patient care and more about the fallout from the economic downturn. As the Guardian reports this week, Sam Higginson, NHS London’s assistant director of strategy, says they intend to push through changes to cope with an imminent financial squeeze in the NHS.

It’s easy to attack the NHS bosses, who are often totally dedicated public servants, doing the Labour government’s dirty work for them. The undemocratic NHS structures mean that health service managers are accountable to the man in Whitehall, not the local community. The real villains are the Labour government. They have burdened the NHS with extra bureaucracy around targets and PFI schemes; and now times are tough, frontline services look set to be cut.

The irony is that Whittington has only recently celebrated its new buildings. Any closure here would be a terrible waste. And reorganisations themselves are a hugely expensive distraction from the job of providing health care.

Islington patients deserve better. Sign the ‘Save the Whittington’ petition here!

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