Author Owen Jones puts weight behind battle to save Whittington Hospital
16:48 06 February 2013
Writer and broadcaster Owen Jones is taking up the fight to save The Whittington Hospital.
Mr Jones, a best-selling author, current affairs show regular and Independent columnist, has said it will be a “double whammy” for patients if half The Whittington Hospital site is sold off and wards are closed.
The left-wing campaigner, who wrote Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, said: “It’s clearly a hospital right in the centre of the community. No wonder that back in 2010, thousands of people took to the streets to save its accident and emergency department.
“I am absolutely committed to saving that hospital. It’s part of a wider fight against the attack on the NHS by this Government.
“Despite Tory claims that they were going to protect NHS budgets in real terms, we are going to see the biggest squeeze on budgets since the war.”
Whittington Health, the trust that manages the hospital and 30 health centres in Islington and Haringey, has decided to sell half the hospital site in Magdala Avenue, Archway, to raise £17million, cap births at 4,000 a year, close three wards and relocate essential services elsewhere in the hospital.
In a letter sent on Tuesday to Shirley Franklin, chairwoman of the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, Whittington Health chairman Joe Liddane said: “The hospital will continue to provide emergency and acute care but long-term conditions and the elderly will be increasingly treated in the community. This represents the care of the future.”
But Mr Jones, who lives in Cheverton Road, Archway, and who used the hospital only recently when he needed his wrist X-rayed following a bicycle accident, has rejected this claim.
He said: “I don’t accept that people can receive care at home. Local authorities are cutting back on carers for the elderly and disabled. So if there are cutbacks at the hospital as well, it will be a double whammy.”
Mr Jones will be speaking at a campaign meeting being held by the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition.
Ms Franklin, who has gathered 1,000 signatures against the sale, welcomed Mr Jones’s support saying: “It’s nice to see people with such commitment.”
Whittington Health’s decision to sell off the hospital land comes as it prepares for self-governing Foundation Trust status, for which it needs to save £4.8million by March.
But Whittington Health chief executive Dr Yi Mien Koh said money from the sales, which will not happen until 2015, “will be ploughed into elderly care, maternity services and accident and emergency.”
*The Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition is holding a public meeting at Archway Methodist Church Hall, Archway Close, Archway, at 7.30pm on February 12.