Whittington Hospital campaigners demand an end to cuts and privatisation - 4 June 2014

THE CHAIRMAN of a hospital under threat of cuts and privatisation stormed out of a public meeting on Wednesday after being presented with more than 5,000 signatures from campaigners opposed to the Board's plans.

Steve Hitchins, who is Chair of the Whittington Hospital Trust Board, refused to answer questions about why the hospital is being privatised and why A&E services are now under review. Instead he instructed his colleagues on the Management Board to leave the room.

Members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG), which campaigns as part of the Defend The Whittington Hospital Coalition, attended the Board meeting asking to read a statement and show the Board 5,000 signatures collected on petitions in the local area. They demanded to know why the public were not allowed to contribute.

A spokesman for the RCG said: "I'm staggered that a supposedly publicly accountable board not only failed to include an agenda item for public contributions, but when presented with the concerns of 5,000 hospital users they stormed out. The Board's stance towards those who not only need the services most but also pay their vast salaries shows their complete arrogance and disregard towards the public".

The group has a number of concerns about the hospital's future, including the misleadingly-named 'Improving the Patient Experience', which it believes is little more than cost-saving through axing services and provision.

The RCG is demanding assurances that no frontline services will be cut, as well as a Board response to press reports that the hospital faces the possibility of an end to its cancer and cardiac care.

The RCG spokesman added: "The Board has proven that they are not interested in patients' concerns, but are pursuing the cuts and privatisation of the government's austerity programme. 

"Stephen Hitchins said the Board was publicly accountable, but today he showed his complete contempt for the needs and concerns of hospital patients".