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Whittington Hospital chiefs announce U-turn on plans to axe scores of beds while pledging no “significant” staff cuts

PUBLISHED: 14:35 09 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:49 09 July 2013

Greg Battle, medical director for integrated care, Chief executive Yi Mien Koh, and Martin Kuper, executive medical director (L-R), announced dramatic changes this morning

Greg Battle, medical director for integrated care, Chief executive Yi Mien Koh, and Martin Kuper, executive medical director (L-R), announced dramatic changes this morning

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Whittington chiefs today scrapped plans to axe scores of patient beds while pledging no “significant reduction” in hospital staff.

The dramatic U-turn was revealed by chief executive Yi Mien Koh and board executives Martin Kuper and Greg Battle this morning, who also announced the further scrapping of plans to sell the Grade II-listed Jenner building and newly built Whittington Education Centre.

However, the derelict Waterlow building – unused for ten years – will be up for grabs for developers along with the 70-room nurses’ accommodation block as part of the five-year plan.

Islington Council is set to open talks with the hospital’s board about how to unlock the two sites’ financial potential.

The original sell-off plans announced earlier this year looked set to axe 570 permanent staff posts and cap the number of births at 4,000 – proposals which were both also reversed this morning.

Instead, £10 million will be ploughed into transforming maternity services following a three-month listening exercise after thousands marched against the original sell-off plans announced in January.

The trio of board members also revealed that the effective extension of a Government April 2014 deadline on achieving Foundation Trust status had afforded more breathing space for future plans.

At the board’s July 24 meeting further details will be outlined about plans to transfer after-care services off-site and into patients’ homes and the wider community.

Chief executive Yi Mien Koh said, “This has been a genuine listening exercise. I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave us their views.

“Concerns were raised on four key issues: moving care closer to home, the sale of buildings, reduction in wards and our staff. We have listened and have made major changes to our plans.”

Greg Battle, the hospital’s medical director for integrated care, added: “I appreciate people’s concerns and reservations on moving care into the community.

“I would like to reassure everyone that medical advances mean there has been a reduction in lengths of stay in hospital and the evidence is that patients recover much better when they are at home.

“Regarding hospital beds, we have reviewed our bed requirements and will retain the overall number of beds while they are needed and commissioned.”

Speaking about staffing Jo Ridgway, director of organisational development, said: “We will continue to invest in the skills of our staff and are launching a new strategy ‘Passionate about People’.

“Over the next few months, we will be reviewing the skills mix of our staff, but we envisage no significant reduction to our permanent staff over the next five years.”


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