Covid and NHS, LTNs and trees versus housing

Frontline staff at Whittington Hospital. Champa Jetha - acute therapy technician. Picture: Slater Ki

Frontline staff member Champa Jetha, acute therapy technician at Whittington Hospital - Credit: Slater King

We need you to stay at home and save lives

Siobhan Harrington, CEO, Whittington Health NHS Trust, writes: 

I am writing to you to give your readers the latest information about how Covid-19 is affecting Whittington Health NHS Trust, as I have tried to do throughout the pandemic.

Like the rest of the NHS across London, Whittington Health is experiencing real pressure as a result of a rapid increase in Covid positive patients. It is once again heartening to see that as my colleagues work so hard, lots of you have been in touch to ask how you can help us. To them and to everyone I say that the most important thing we can all do is to follow the national lockdown rules: stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

I want to pay tribute to my hard working and dedicated colleagues as they continue to provide safe, effective and compassionate care under the most difficult conditions. To help support them we are asking you to donate what you can afford in order to support our staff through this difficult time. Even if it is just enough for a cup of coffee, your support will mean a great deal to them as they work so hard on all of our behalves. 


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Late last month we had to take the difficult decision to temporarily stop performing non-urgent adult services to free up staff and space on our wards to treat patients who require emergency, critical or Covid-19 care. 

I am extremely sorry to anyone whose treatment has been disrupted as a result. 

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I am acutely aware of the impact which this decision will have on those who are waiting and I can assure you that the decision was not taken lightly or until all other possibilities had been exhausted.

Finally, I want to reassure you that if you need urgent health advice or treatment you should not delay getting help. 
Your pharmacy, GP, NHS111 and our hospital A&E Department remain open and safe to use – and if you need help with something urgent, but non-life-threatening NHS 111 can now book time slots at our A&E department for those who need them. Please use NHS resources responsibly at this busy time.

Our thanks

Yvonne M, Sheila and Bernie G, write to Bingfield Primary Care Centre:

I should like to give my thanks to all the medical care staff and the volunteer team who showed such kindness to me when I had my Covid-19 vaccinations recently.  

Two friends who live at the Archway asked me to add their thanks because they received the same kindness and efficient care that I had experienced.

With all good wishes and thanks to you all. Stay safe.

More support is needed

Devon Osborne, Islington Green Party, writes:

I think we are all concerned about the massive problems now hitting our hospitals. I stand in awe and gratefulness to everyone working at the Whittington.

The government keeps reminding us of how important it is for everyone to minimise contacts and protect the NHS. For this to really work the government must provide financial support to all those that need to self-isolate. 

As someone who tested positive for Covid-19 just before Christmas, filling out test and trace was not only hard because the process is physically painful when ill, but mentally draining. 

Knowing that, to do the right thing, I would have to condemn both my flatmates and co-workers to 14 days without work or wages was a guilt-filled nightmare. 

But I filled out test and trace with all the responsibility necessary to end this, even citing people I had met outside with social distancing.

I was lucky enough to work in an environment that put the safety of our customers before profit. This has taken its financial toll on them and to know I would be responsible for the closing of our doors, the lost pay of my colleagues, managers and flatmates, meant this was extremely stressful. 

I was eligible for a one-off £500 bursary from Islington Council (you have to be on universal credit or considered low income at the discretion of your council) and I was not only thankful to receive it, but also for the painless process to apply. My colleagues and flatmates received no help at all. 

To those adrift in the sea of a negative test or no symptoms, with bills to pay and no money coming in, isolating is not the choice everyone can afford to make and the government must financially help the many that are drowning in it.

I, therefore, call on the government to widen the support to all that are told to self isolate, not just those on universal credit and to not have to jump through hoops to receive much needed help. 
This is not only fair to those people affected but will also help cut transmission, lessen the negative mental health implications and reduce the pressure on the NHS.

It was a complete shambles

Richard Smith, Highbury Hill, Islington, writes:

The latest low-traffic neighbourhoods scheme in Islington came into force in Highbury West on Monday (January 11). 

It was a complete shambles. Drivers familiar with the roads, many of them local residents, sailed past small, obscured and badly positioned signs, unaware that enforcement had begun. 
Council officials were conspicuous by their absence, keeping well out of it. 

It was left to people living and working nearby to explain what was going on to confused motorists, jammed in queues of reversing and U-turning vehicles.

Traditionally tranquil roads were filled with cars circling with increasing frustration as they tried to escape the closed zones.
Not even Islington’s own employees seemed to have a clue as their own lorries passed through the “no entry” signs.

Even if you support the concept of low traffic neighbourhoods, the mismanagement of the implementation takes the breath away. 

It leaves one to wonder if the whole scheme is similarly misconceived.

Protecting our trees

Eilidh Murray, Canonbury, full address supplied, wrote to Islington Council:

The Dixon Clark Court (DCC) consultation was, as you know, published during the heady days of the Highbury Corner redevelopment where there was a huge amount of publicity, overshadowing all other proposed work in the area. 

You may not be aware that the environmental impact assessment (EIA), a document analysing all the environmental consequences of the whole Highbury Corner restructuring, including its immediate surrounds, made no reference at all to the removal of the DCC trees. What is the point of an EIA? This key point should have been commented on with a strong recommendation to leave the trees standing for their contribution to the whole area - an area which has now lost nearly 20 trees as part of the roundabout’s redevelopment and is a much diminished green space.

You should know that the two petitions regarding trees are gathering massive support; the one regarding a tree preservation order for all 40,000 Islington trees and not just one per cent has over 600 signatures and the Save the DCC trees petition nearly 3,500, and both are rising. 
Trees matter to people.

It’s time to reconsult on this environmentally damaging scheme;  many things have changed since the first rather over-shadowed consultation not least the council has rightly declared a climate emergency and we have all realised the value of nature as an essential way of coping with Covid.

It’s not “housing or trees” it’s “housing and trees”. Be brave, be environmentally ethical leaders and reconsider. To paraphrase the late Conor McHugh, the founder and inspiration behind this campaign, it’s your legacy which is at stake.

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