MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
It really was a packed hall – and very hot! Nearly 400 people came to question Rachel Tyndall (Chair of the Review panel putting forward the proposals on A&E, maternity and all) and Richard Sumray (Chair of Haringey PCT). Robert Gorrie facilitated the meeting (LibDemCouncil leader). Having told the hall he was LibDem Leader – that was the extent of party politics – there were none on the night – this was a meeting for real people to question the health bosses.
There was never going to be enough time for all the questions and comment and the answers that were given, on the whole, weren’t as tight or definitive as all of us would want. An example would be – if everyone rejects the proposal in the coming consultation – will you keep the A&E open?’ Needless to say the answer was alog the ‘we can’t say what will be in the consultation at this point’.
However, Rachel Tyndall was pretty upfront about one of the models for the future closing A&E which would see it replaced by an urgent care centre. She also talked quite a lot about money and the fact it was going to flatline now in this economy whilst the demand grows – thus leaving a massive budgetary hole down the line.
Here are some of the questions and answers – but there were many so this is a summation – but many missing am sure.
Those who came were magnificent – and asked many of the questions that needed to be asked. Is this privatisation? Ms Tyndall: if the private sector offers something better – that is what people want. Have you done any of the social science research – ie finding out from people about their usage? Sumray: yes we have and we have consulted with people. (Author’s note – the consultation with ‘people’ was eighty people. Across five boroughs that is not exactly a good sample). Accessibility of the site and travel and transport: Sumray – we will do a transport report. One of the audience kindly pointed out (accurately) that Hornsey Hospital has been built and still only has the same one bus it had before the new facility was there. How can the Royal Free take 80,000 from the Whittington on top of the 90,000 already going there? It won’t be 80,000 as so many can be treated in other ways. Follow on questions: so if 30,000 people are going to go to an out of hours GP instead of A&E – where are those doctors coming from? Not answered. What about people dying from extra journey times? Ah- but they will get better care when they get there. What are the criteria for consultation? There aren’t any yet. Where will the decision be made? It will be made by the joint committee of the five local PCTs. What about the high infant mortality rate? If A&E go – that will get worse. It isn’t the birth bit that is the problem – most deaths happen in the first year after birth. Have you got the figures for what it costs to run the Whittington as I asked last time at the last meeting? No I still don’t have them but if you give me your name and address I will make sure you get them.
There are many issues to cover – but one outstanding case was made re the numbers and type of need of the users of A&E. A couple of days before the meeting – we were notified that Rachel Tyndall was bringing a clinician to answer any medical/clinical questions. So I decided I needed to meet fire with fire – and found Ben Timmis, a Consultant at the Whittington, who is Chair of the Whittington Hospital Support Committee, which is a newly formed sub-committee of the main hospital Medical Committee – the medical advisory structure of the hospital.
One of the audience asked a question to the clinician, Philippa Curran, speaking for the Review Panel (as Ms Tyndall had kept banging home the point that this whole thing was clinically led) as to whether she really believed this would deliver better health care. I think Ms Curran was very nervous – and made a complete hash of the answer – inferring that people feeling unwell needed to consider whether it was serious and then make a decision as to which hospital to go to. The audience just laughed and she lost all credibility. It was pretty harsh for her – but it absolutely proved the case that when the Trust and Review panel claim this is clinician led – it is pretty dubious as to what that actually means.
Then Ben Timmis was called and this is a real super-point that takes away from the health bosses claim that out of the 80,000 visits to the Whittington A&E half could be seen elsewhere.
I can’t remember the exact figures (and won’t have my notes until tomorrow) but out of that 80,000, something like 15,000 are admitted, a further 30,000 are treated and then go home – but this is the one I hadn’t even thought of – another 30,000 need the sort of investigative tests, examination and so on to make sure it isn’t something more serious and then can be sent home if in the clear. And Mr Timmis made it crystal clear that these examinations to eliminate a serious illness etc can ONLY be done in a proper A&E department. Game, set and match I thought!
I wish we could have had another couple of hours – as there were so many people who wanted to speak but who didn’t get called. However, Rachel and Richard have agreed to come back again – and I have no doubt that both of them are under no illusions about how local people feel about our A&E!
Here’s my latest column for the Ham & High:
Tonight, Thursday March 4, I have arranged a public meeting, where local residents will get the chance to hear at first hand what the hospital bosses have to say about the threat to the A&E at the Whittington Hospital. To represent the NHS, I have invited Rachel Tyndall, Chair of the North Central London (NCL) review panel, the body that has put forward the proposals to close the Whittington A&E, and Richard Sumray, who is chair of Haringey Primary Care Trust.
This will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions – directly to the powers that be. And I want you to be there. If we can show just how strong local feelings are about this threat, I think we might have a chance of stopping them. Following the petitions, the march and demo and the early meetings on the Whittington, we now have the NHS Strategy Document – so we now know from this latest document that there are seven draft ‘options’ for the future of the Whittington. Four out of the seven show an end to 24/7 A&E at the Whittington.
That is still deeply worrying – though some progress on the first leaked letter from Rachel Tyndall to the CEOs and Medical Directors of the relevant hospitals which had four options, all of which completely axed A&E at the Whittington.
This letter was withdrawn after the first round of outcry, but it leaves an underlying belief that the Whittington is on the hit list and that however long and complicated the document supporting the now draft seven options is – that early letter showed which way the thinking was going.
Since then the NHS line is that ‘nothing has been decided’ – but we need to know how that decision will be made. What are the criteria? Will we who use the Whittington and cannot believe the madness of the proposed closure have any real power in that consultation? We also need to guard against being played off against each other as to which of UCH, the Royal Free, Chase Farm, Barnet, the Whittington and North Mids get to retain or offer which service.
Myself and Jeremy Corbyn agreed on the march last Saturday that we will convene all ten MPs across the five boroughs to meet with the decision makers and Ministers to let them know that we will not be divided. No divide and rule – across all five boroughs we will fight for our local health services.
We know that if the Whittington A&E goes, so too does a range of other services - maternity, intensive therapy unit (ITU), proper training for medical students and the ability for local GPs to make emergency referrals to the hospital.
And if they go – how long before the NHS decides to let the rest wither on the vine? We have seen it all before. We marched last Saturday past the Royal Northern Hospital - gone but not forgotten.
No-one voted for this. It was never in the Labour manifesto. The Labour Minister in answer to my many questions says ‘it is a local matter’. And yet – these quango servants to the Government hold our health in their hands – and they are not accountable to us.
They must be stopped. This is our life, our health, our NHS!
The meeting will take place as follows: Thursday, 4th March from 8 pm, Greig City Academy, Hornsey, N8 7NU.
To access the assembly hall where the meeting will be held, please use the entrance from Hillfield Avenue and follow the signs. If you have any questions, just call my office on 020 8340 5459.
UPDATE: Meeting has now taken place and you can read about it here.
Local MP Lynne Featherstone is this week calling on local residents to come along to a public meeting on Thursday to hear directly from health care bosses on the future of the Whittington A&E.
The meeting, which is being held at Greig City Academy in Hornsey, N8 7NU on Thursday the 4 March from 8pm, will give local residents the chance to put questions directly to Rachel Tyndall, Chair of the North Central London Review Panel, and Richard Sumray, who is Chair of NHS Haringey.
Residents who want to attend should use the Hillfield Avenue entrance to the Hornsey school, and follow the signs.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“Things have moved on since we first heard about the proposal to close the A&E. There are now seven draft options, four of which end 24 hour A&E at the Whittington.
“This is your chance to hear directly from the NHS bosses on these plans, but more importantly, this is your chance to make sure your voice is heard.
“Please come along, and bring friends and neighbours. The more of us are there to show our concern, to ask a question or just to listen and understand – the better. Together we can fight this.”
Save our A&E! Save our A&E! Save our maternity!
So rang out the chants on the march to save the Whittington A&E this morning. The rain kept mainly on the plain – thank goodness – and we marched and chanted all the way from Highbury and Islington Tube to the Whittington – where we had a huge rally.
Big thanks to the Defend the Whittington Coalition – who organised the whole caboodle – and it takes some organisation – with having Holloway Road closed off in one direction, the Whittington main entrance closed during the rally and, lovely surprise, a jazz band played all the way. The Whittington Stray Cats – I believe they said they were called.
Of course – the key issue is how do we get those making the decision to withdraw any of the proposals that they say we will be consulted on next autumn that close the Whittington A&E? For currently – out of the seven draft proposals – four end 24/7 A&E.
This is a nightmare – where the Government is calling the ultimate shots – but hiding behind its quango servants to do the dirty work.
I have organised a public meeting on March 4, 8pm at Greig Academy (entrance to assembly hall in Hillfield Avenue off High Street Hornsey. The Chair of the Review panel, Rachel Tyndall, (putting forward the proposals) and Richard Sumray – Chair of Haringey PCT will both be there to take questions from local people.
Please come and make the case – loud and clear – for all the reasons we users know. It is clear insanity to close this vital local service.
(Also on YouTube here)
It is clear from the overwhelming response to the campaign and petition that local people want the Whittington A & E to remain and remain 24/7. In fact – most people can’t believe closure is even being proposed – as to anyone locally this is madness.
But the fight doesn’t stop at a petition. On the 4th March, I have arranged a public meeting, where local residents will get the chance to hear at first hand, what the hospital bosses have to say about the threat to the A&E. To represent the NHS, I have invited Rachel Tyndall, Chair of the North Central London (NCL) review panel, the body that has put forward the proposals to close the Whittington A&E, and Richard Sumray, who is chair of Haringey Primary Care Trust.
This will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions – directly to the powers that be. And I want you to be there. If we can show just how strong local feelings are about this threat, I think we might have a chance of stopping them. We now know from the latest document that there are seven draft ‘options’ for the future of the Whittington. Four out of the seven show an end to 24/7 A&E at the Whittington.
The meeting will take place as follows:
Thursday the 4th March from 8 pm, Greig City Academy, Hornsey, N8 7NU.
To access the assembly hall where the meeting will be held, please use the entrance from Hillfield Avenue and follow the signs. If you have any questions, just call my office on 020 8340 5459.
Lastly, I also wanted to mention that I am marching, with my fellow Liberal Democrat colleagues, in protest against the potential closure on Saturday the 27th February. The march, organised by Defend the Whittington coalition, will start at Highbury Fields at 12 noon and to the Whittington Hospital.
Do come along and show your support – if you want to find more details on the march, please go to: http://dwhc.org.uk/.
Thanks again for the support you have shown for our campaign, and please help spread the word about the threat to our A&E – together we can fight this!
To give local residents the chance to hear directly from hospital bosses about the threat to the Whittington’s A&E, Lynne Featherstone MP will be hosting a public meeting on the issue on Thursday 4 March, at Greig City Academy, High Street, Hornsey, N8 7NU:
The meeting, which will run from 8 pm, will give local residents the chance to question Rachel Tyndall, Chair of the North Central London Review Panel, the organisation that has put forward the suggestion to close the Whittington A&E, and Richard Sumray, who is Chair of NHS Haringey.
Lynne Featherstone will also lead a group of Liberal Democrats who are marching from Highbury Fields in Islington, to Whittington Hospital on Saturday 27 February from 12 noon, to protest against the threat to the Archway emergency department, and encourages local residents to come along and show their support for the campaign.
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“Local residents need to get a chance to put their concerns about the future of our A&E directly to the people in charge. And the hospital bosses need to hear how strongly we feel about these threats.
“So please come along both to the march on the 27th, and to the meeting on the 4th March. Join us and make your voice heard – together we can fight this!”
Note: The meeting will be in the school’s assembly hall and access to the hall is from Hillfield Avenue.
Full credit to Rachel Tyndall (Chair of the North London Central Review Panel) for sending me the NCL Strategy Plan for our local health services. I had heard that these had been submitted to NHS London and asked for a copy – and it was given to me virtually immediately. I have circulated the document for information.
The content is of concern. First let me say – this is a long, technical document – in which the arguments are laid out for the configuration of health services across five boroughs and between five hospitals: Barnet, Royal Free, North Mids, UCLH and the Whittington. Ms Tyndall has said that a more accessible version for public consumption will be provided in due course.
In the appendix, are laid out, seven ‘scenarios’. This is where the fight to Save the Whittington A&E will come – if these are the ‘options’ that come for public consultation next autumn.
The seven ‘scenarios’ demonstrate different configurations between the five hospitals as to what services will be provided from each hospital. It is about a total provision – obviously – not just A&E. Suffice to say that four out of the seven ‘scenarios’ show an end to 24/7 A&E at the Whittington. Three show retention of 24/7 A&E.
Interestingly two of the ‘scenarios’ show a reduction to 16 hours A&E – however – from the minutes of the Board Meeting of the Council of Governors of the Whittington it is quite clear that the the 16 hour A&E is not a real option. The actual wording from the minutes of the meeting of the Council of Governors of the Whittington reads (and I quote directly):
Very importantly NCL and the Whittington have ruled out an option where the Whittington has an A&E with reduced opening time eg 16hours per day. This leaves options where either the full 24 hour A&E is retained or there is no A&E at all. The Whittington might then have an urgent care centre.
So – I don’t know why NCL have included two options showing a 16 hour A&E as clearly that has already been ruled out. This makes me wonder if options have been put in that are not really and truly under consideration but are there to make two of the options look better than they are – as they seem to offer some A&E rather than none. I will seek clarification on this seemingly conflicting evidence.
The greater problem for all of us fighting to save the Whittington A&E – is that as long as there are any ‘scenarios’ that don’t retain 24 hour A&E – we are in jeopardy. So – we need the public consultation next autumn to simply ask those who use the Whittington whether we want to retain the 24 A&E service or whether we would prefer the alternative range of provision at the polyclinic, GP extra hours, urgent care centre etc favoured by NCL and the Trusts.
Anything else opens the way to closure of A&E at the Whittington.
At this point – it is a battle to make sure whatever options finally come forward for consultation- that if local people want to retain a 24 hour A&E at the Whittington – it is retained!
So – on Monday the draft ‘options’ for the future configuration of our local health services were passed up the chain to the Strategic Health Authority for London – NHS London. Well – that is the news that reaches me. No – we are not to know their thinking.
My understanding is that these are the first cut of reconfiguration options that NCL (North Central London Sector) have sent to SHA (Strategic Health Authority.
I feel we should have access to this document as soon as possible and I have sent an email to Rachel Tyndall (Chair of NCL) asking for a copy. Just in case this request is refused – I will submit a Freedom of Information request on Monday.
On the democratic accountability around all of this – why is it that local authorities have no representation at the decision making tables? It turns out we do – an officer form Enfield has been nominated to NCL. It is outrageous that a paid officer has been made the effective “place man” to represent the 1.2 million people in the NCL area.
It seems that this was agreed following meetings between NCL and Leaders and CEOs of the boroughs – sold down the swanny in my view. My LibDem colleague, Dave Winskill’s suggestion is, at the very least, all lead members on adult services get together to discuss this and the implications for their services and demand representation.
After all, I have no doubt that any savings that these savage cuts make (if they succeed in their evil passage) will not be shared with the Boroughs who will surely bear some of the extra cost of community based care?
Here’s my latest Ham & High column:
The world works in mysterious ways. If I hadn’t broken a bone in my foot a couple of weeks ago – I might not have heard what was being planned for the future of the Whittington in such a timely fashion.
The position put out by Rachel Tyndall (CEO for North London Central NHS) in a letter to senior NHS managers was that the Whittington would lose its Accident & Emergency services.
But after the letter was publicised, the situation abruptly changed. A revised letter was sent out in which options for the future of the Whittington designate it a ‘local hospital’. That is a very comforting sounding phrase – but it would still mean an end to 24 hour A&E cover.
The rapidity with which the original proposals to end all A&E were dropped does make me doubt how well thought out they were – and also whether they have really been abandoned fully or are still lurking waiting for a chance to come back.
So I have sent out emails and letters to inform local people what was going on, with the background on the threats to close or reduce the A&E services at the Whittington Hospital. You can sign the petition yourself at http://campaigns.libdems.org.uk/saveouraande
The responses are pouring in at a volume I have actually never seen before, with over 1,000 signatures in the first 48 hours. It is already quite clear that local people don’t want to lose their local A&E nor see it reduced – nor do they feel the NHS has been communicating well or fully on the subject.
In the background to all this are talks about merging Royal Free and The Whittington – either completely or some of the services. The principle of raising the quality of health services by providing them via the best means available is a good one – and it may be that some services are best provided through only one or the other of these two hospitals. But A&E is one of the services that needs to be local and 24 hours – that’s the point.
As one constituent wrote to me, who works elsewhere in the NHS themselves, said of the Whittington, it “exists to provide a local and emergency service and is at risk of having its lifeblood sucked away”.
I have held meetings in the last week with the key people at both the London North Central Review Panel and the Whittington. Whilst all the NHS senior people are saying no decisions have been made, that original letter with its set of proposals – all of which meant closing the Whittington’s A&E – make it clear which way thoughts are running on the issue.
Although there are promises to bring the issue to public consultation, consultation has to be over a meaningful range of options – not a set that already assumes a key decision. With the consultation pencilled in for September 2010 – after the next elections please note – there is a whiff in the air of putting controversial decisions off until after the votes with the ability to then push them through with the public voice neutered.
That is why it is so important that local peoples’ views are heard loud and clear NOW. Otherwise when the Health Authority ’options’ finally come to public consultation – we may find that there are no options that keep the Whittington A&E open.