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Campaigners set date for protest against Whittington Hospital sell off

06:33 11 February 2013

History repeats itself? Protesters march to save the Whittington Hospital's A&E department in 2010. Picture: Polly Hancock

History repeats itself? Protesters march to save the Whittington Hospital's A&E department in 2010. Picture: Polly Hancock

Polly Hancock

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in order to stop half The Whittington Hospital from being sold off.

Campaigners have set a date for a massive march though the streets of Islington – and they are expecting tens of thousands of people to turn out.

The march will take place on Saturday, March 16, and protesters are planning to walk from Highbury Corner, along Holloway Road, and up to the Whittington in Magdala Avenue, Archway.

Organiser Shirley Franklin, of the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, said: “If Lewisham Hospital can get 25,000 people out in support of their A&E, then we can pull 35,000.

“We are hoping to pick up support all the way along the march. This is for the community.”

Islington’s Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, representatives from the trade unions GMB, Unite and Unison, and users of The Whittington Hospital are all expected to be there.

Ms Franklin is also hoping that celebrities such as the author, commentator and declared Whittington supporter Owen Jones, who wrote the bestseller Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, will turn out for the march.

The protest is against a five-year estates strategy drawn up by bosses at the Whittington, which proposes reducing beds, cutting staff, selling off half the hospital site to raise £17million, and providing more care in the community.

This is the second time campaigners have taken to the streets to save The Whittington Hospital from being downgraded.

Back in 2010, up to 5,000 people marched from Highbury Corner to Archway over NHS plans that could have resulted in the Whittington losing its accident and emergency, maternity and intensive care units.

Ms Franklin said: “I am hoping that this march will be the same as last time but 10 times bigger.”

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