HANSARD shows the Camden New Journal was namechecked in the House of Commons on Thursday a couple of times. There was also praise for its sister newspaper, the Islington Tribune, and investigative journalist Tom Foot. This was from local MPs who quite rightly felt they should have been kept up to date with massive changes to the Whittington Hospital in Archway. Instead, they read it in a series of stories by Tom, who diligently trawls through the board papers each month.
The lack of attempts to discuss plans to sell half the buildings, cut staff posts and cap the number of births at the hospital with the public is one of the most worrying factors about the whole saga. It’s great for Tom to get a scoop of importance across north London, but changes that are clearly going to change the face of our hospital deserved greater public debate before they were rubber-stamped by the board on that Wednesday afternoon. No wonder then a march has been planned for March 16 to protest. It just needs police consent but cancel anything else you have in your diary for that day. We’ve been there before. Nobody in our newsroom has forgotten the day 5,000 marched down Holloway Road in defence of the Accident and Emergency department. The New Journal had to get the battle bus out of the garage that day.
Anyway, here’s Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn’s words in the Commons this week, explaining where the latest attempt to ‘Save The Whittington’ stems from:
“The hospital wants to become a trust and has begun putting together a financial package, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Tottenham referred. The package involves the sale of a quarter of the site—apparently, £17 million is to be made from that—the loss of 500 jobs and a reduction of the number of beds in the hospital to 177, which is about half what it was five years ago.
“We asked whether an A and E department with a hospital of only 177 beds behind it was viable. Is that not a plan to remove the Whittington as an overall local district general hospital with an A and E department in future? The Camden New Journal and Islington Tribune reported on this with great alacrity last week. I congratulate Tom Foot and all those who put the story together, because I suspect the issue would not otherwise have reached the light of day. At a public meeting next Tuesday, friends, neighbouring MPs and many others from the local community will be questioning the chief executive and others from the hospital, and taking part in a big campaign to protect our hospital.”