Whittington Hospital - stop cuts and outsourcing! Local activists speak at Whittington Hospital board meeting 4/2/2015

We have been campaigning against cuts and outsourcing at the Whittington for more than two years now. During this time, hundreds of thousands has been spent by Whittington Health to pay consultants, for example Uniparts Consultants. Plans for a sell off of land, presumably drawn up with the help of these private consultants, ended up being scrapped last year after local protest. According to the Camden New Journal 10 board members have resigned since then.

So it should be no surprise that local people are angry and want answers about the future of the hospital. A number of points were raised in our letter to you ahead of this meeting, which you gave partial answers to, but important questions remain.

Firstly regarding medical secretarial work at the hospital and our question of how many redundancies had been made as a result of contracting Dictat IT for digital dictation. You answered none, but it has been reported in the press that Medical Secretarial posts have been made redundant. We want to know how many medical secretarial posts have been made redundant at the hospital, not how many people, which seems to be the basis for your answer. We think it is no coincidence that digital dictation work is now being done by a private company.

Secondly it’s clear from your letter that the ISIS short stay ward is under threat of closure as you admit it is ‘under review’. Local people are not convinced that the real reason for this review is patient safety and experience as opposed to cutting costs. When will we know what the plans are?

Similarly you make no bones about the very real possibility of further outsourcing of hospital contracts to private providers. How the private sector can help we do not know. We have seen the recent example of Hitchingbrooke hospital, where private company Circle walked away from the hospital saying that the contract was not ‘viable’ (read profitable). This illustrates the very obvious point that hospitals cannot be run like businesses, where unprofitable activities can just be scrapped.

What is the Trust board doing to push back against cuts that are being made to funding for frontline services. For example, were you among those hospital trusts that wrote to Monitor recently to protest against further reductions in the government tariff - payments for hospital treatment, which is starving hospitals of essential funds? If you are serious about protecting this hospital then we would welcome you to join our protests, and the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition. If you stand up to the government, local people will back you.

Finally, when the plans for cuts and the land sell-off were shelved, the chair of the board, Steve Hitchins said at a public meeting of DWHC that the plan would still be to apply for Foundation Trust status. Is this still then case? If so when will the public hear the plans and will it necessitate more cuts?