Whittington Hospital pull out of controversial regeneration deal with Grenfell-linked firm

The Whittington Hospital in Archway. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Archive

The Whittington Hospital in Archway. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Archive - Credit: `Steve Parsons/PA Archive

The Whittington Hospital today confirmed it will abandon a regeneration agreement made with Ryhurst, whose parent company Rydon worked on Grenfell Tower before last June’s fire.

According to hospital bosses, the deal - which would have seen Ryhurst help to manage the hospital’s buildings - was made last June, just days before the fire.

In a statement, the Whittington NHS Trust said: “It is no longer necessary to bring in external commercial expertise by entering into a Strategic Estates Partnership.

“The trust will now move forward with plans to bring in a range of experts to start the process of developing a comprehensive plan for our estate.”

Ryhurst’s parent company Rydon were the contractors charged with refurbishing Grenfell Tower in 2016.

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Campaigner Shirley Franklin, who leads the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC) told the Gazette: “This is a major success. We had three demands: We wanted Rydon out and we wanted it brought back in house, so we’ve won those, and then we wanted greater transparency.

“I have to thank Team Whit and the MPs, because this has been a real community effort.”

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This comes after Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and two other local Labour MPs - Catherine West and Emily Thornberry - wrote to Islington Council’s health scrutiny chief calling for the deal to be cancelled.

The three MPs issued a joint statement welcoming the news.

They said: “We are pleased that a wise decision has been made to ensure that the future of all the Whittington premises both on the hospital site and in the community remain in public hands.

“We would like to thank Whittington Health’s senior management for listening to us and to the appeals of the local community and the local councils.”

Islington Council leader Cllr Richard Watts said: “The council is keen to support the hospital where we can to ensure NHS services are protected, new investment in vital NHS services is delivered and, where appropriate, genuinely affordable homes are delivered for local people and NHS staff.

“Any future proposals for improvements to the hospital estate must be transparent and must take into account the views of local people.”

Founding member of DWHC and local councillor Gary Heather told the Gazette: “I am pleased that the uncertainty caused by the potential involvement of Ryhurst in the Whittington Health Trust Strategic Estates Partnership has been ended.

“The deal with Ryhurst was so very controversial because of the involvement of its parent company, Rydon, in works being investigated in relation to the tragic Grenfell Tower fire.”

Campaigners, including the DWHC have vocally opposed the deal since it was announced in October 2017.

In two similar cases in Chester and the Wirral, Ryhurst launched legal action against NHS trusts for breaking contracts, but it is unclear whether they will do the same in this case.

The Rydon Group has yet to comment.

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