MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
I have used Whittington A&E since 1983, when my son was born. He had bronchial asthma and we often had to rush there when he was two or three years old. It’s hard to put into words how reassuring it was to know that he would be seen by a doctor after he’d been unable to stop coughing for hours. Recently he used it again when he needed stitches in his hand on Christmas Eve: he was given antibiotics and a tetanus shot and his hand is healing well. I can’t believe that such a valuable institution could face closure.
When my son was approximately 6 months old he had a bad cough and he produced some spots of blood as he was coughing. I took him to my GP who referred me immediately to the A & E at the Whittington.
As this is my local hospital my child was born there so I was familiar with the place and I felt comfortable going there. We drove ourselves to the hospital. The journey took no more than 10 mins which meant I did not have to worry for an unnecessarily long time.
We were seen quite quickly and reassured that the problem was not serious and were home within approx 3 hours. I feel so lucky to live near to a hospital with an A & E facilty.
I have used the A & E at the North Mid for my child also as he had “pulled elbow” but the only reason I used this hospital was because we were shopping nearby at Ikea. It would take us at least 20 mins to get to the North Mid from my home, this would be massively increased if there were traffic on the very busy A10.
I actually feel a real sense of security being so close to the A & E at the Whittington, and would be very concerned if it were to close or run under reduced services.
A few years ago my nephew sliced the top off his finger with an electric planer [used to plane wood]. I wrapped his finger in a towel and rushed him to The Whittington A & E Dept. We had to wait a little while as it was very busy but when he was seen, he was taken to the ward and had the operation that night. They did a marvellous job, and although his finger is slightly short, he is still able to be a cabinet maker and hardly anyone notices.
If we had to have travelled further, he might have lost the use of his finger.
My story re the Whittington is that last year my two year old granddaughter started limping and it is was discovered that she had an infection in the bone in her leg. The diagnosis took a week to sort out and during that time she had to stay in the hospital and be sedated three times to have scans to try and work out what was wrong. the staff were fantastic and if she had not received the care and attention that she did she could have lost her leg. She had to be treated with intravenous antibiotics daily for six weeks. This meant a trip to the Whittington daily for my daughter with her daughter and a four month old baby.
The nearest other A&E is the Royal Free, which is miles away & very difficult to get to, especially for older people (my wife & I are over 60 and my neighbour 89), even by ambulance (rarely available) or car, due to multitude of intervening “sleeping policemen”. Direct public transport is non-existent.
1. About 10 years ago, my wife badly lacerated her arms when a glass door shattered. As waiting an unspecified time for an ambulance was not an option, I drove her to Whittington A&E (took 10-15mins). They were excellent, prioritising her treatment & even the security guys let me park “illegally” outside A&E for a while.
2. About 5 years ago I had a series of eye operations at the Royal Free. Again, excellent (not A&E) treatment. However, journey by car took about 45 mins and by public transport, with several changes nearly hour and a half.
3. Last year, my 89 year old neighbour had a bad fall at the end of our road (bad cuts & bruises to her face & some concussion). A helpful passer by called me & an even more helpful policeman called an ambulance (arrived in less than 10 mins), which took her to Whittington A&E. I then drove there, so as to keep her company until her daughter could arrive from work in Central London. Took about 10-15mins again plus 5mins to find a parking place.
The point of the 3 stories is that I know the driving & public transport routes to both hospitals, I know that each method takes 3 times as long to Royal Free as to Whittington, and even though an ambulance would be quicker, the relative times ratio would still be the same, especially with the number of “sleeping policemen” en route (& assuming an ambulance was available !).
Perhaps not an issue for stories 2 & 3, but I would worry that the tourniquets I put on my wife’s arms (story 1) would have stemmed her blood loss long enough for a journey to the Royal Free.
It had been a busy day — several business meetings, a proposal to write, auditions to sit in, budgets to finish. By the afternoon and several cups of coffee later my heart began to palpitate. It’s a condition I’ve been used to ever since my late teens and was normally able to deal with through breathing exercises. Except this time the palpitations wouldn’t go away.
Eventually my business partner insisted I go home and rest. The palpitations continued all through my drive home from Clerkenwell to Highgate. I began to worry, thinking the worst, thinking of what would happen to my family of two small children if anything happened to me. As I passed the Whittington I stopped the car and went into A&E, told them why I was there and their formidably efficient heart monitoring system switched into overdrive.
I was whisked up to have an ECG, down again to be put onto a monitor and within half an hour was seeing a top heart consultant. My story has a happy ending, but I often wonder what might have happened had I had to get to the Royal Free that day instead of having the Whittington on my doorstep, and shudder at the prospect. And for many, getting to the Royal Free is no easy journey.
The Whittington A&E is a lifeline to many thousands of people to whom life has not been kind. It provides a service to some of the poorest people in Western Europe. It deals with unimaginable human problems day in and day out. It is a vital local resource which I for one will fight ceaselessly to keep open.
I have been extremely grateful for the A and E department at the Whittington Hospital several times in the last few years, including one time when I had a very nasty foreign body in my eye (accident in Muswell Hill, on the 43 bus route), and another time when I tripped on a pavement on the Holloway Road and was in enormous pain after landing on on a hand and, as it turned out, cracking my wrist.
The accident happened on the Holloway Road, and I was able to get there, by bus, really quite quickly. The hospital was super and the treatment (and the follow-up, which went on some time) excellent. Had I had to go to, for example, the Royal Free, there would have been a lot of delays to start with and it would have been extremely difficult to get there.
We badly need an excellent facility such as this one in this very centralised and easy to reach neighbourhood. I cannot recommend it too highly and trust it will be possible to avert its potential destruction.
I am epileptic.
Once I had a very serious fit in which I was unconscious for half an hour, and an ambulance had to be called. On numerous other occasions I have had fits in which I was injured, needing a hospital trip.
I am hugely grateful that on all these occasions, there was a good A&E just a short distance away.
A trip to the Royal Free or the North Middlesex would have taken at least twice as long; the roads from Crouch End to the Royal Free are messy, while the North Middlesex is further yet.
I can well imagine the worry which this proposal brings to other people in this area, who may have serious or life-threatening conditions. Time matters in such cases.
I would like to add to this.
I am the one,who has to get my partner John to A&E,if anything happens when I am here. To have to go further than the Whittington would be awful.
As for my own last experience-I developed a terrible, painful rash,that spread like wildfire. After calling NHS Direct the second time in the middle of the night, the doctor I spoke to,suggested to go to A&E.
I was very unwell, but made it to the Whittington, any further would have been questionable. On arrival,several doctors did not know what was wrong. I was given several injections. Then I had to wait many hours,to see the Dermatology Consultant,who had to take a biopsy. It turned out to be Urticaria Vasculitis, cause unknown.
In a Polyclinic,I am sure,this could not have been dealt with. Then surely a transfer to hospital would have been necessary.
I very much support your efforts to keep the Whittington A & E open.
As a disabled person distance is an issue. I have had reasons to attend the Whittington with a broken foot, resulting from a fall. To have got somebody to drive me to the Royal Free for follow up and to help me once there would have been unthinkable. Cuts in patient transport, and the long waits to be collected and returned, mean that for disabled people a hospital vist for an injury could take a whole day or an overnight stay – much longer than for an able bodied person. I wonder how this represents the NHS living up to its legal duty under the DDA to promote the needs of disabled service users!
I have heard about the plans to close the Whittington A&E and am very concerned to say the least. As a mother with two young children the Whittington A&E has been an essential trip for middle of the night meningitis/high temperature scares where there really is no time to waste going through the frustrating motions of NHS direct and they usually tell you to go straight to A&E anyway.
If there is no A&E where is everyone to go? As a baby, my son was severely dehydrated following an illness and the staff at A&E were fantastic – the same when my daughter has a high temperature and she refused oral medication. We have been there many times at various times of day and night for various medical emergencies and I cannot imagine what life would be like if it was not there.
It is an essential service and there is no alternative close enough. It is a ridiculous decision made by men in suits who have no idea what it is to sit at A&E with a sick child – we need a local A&E and there is no way that closing it will not have an dangerous impact on those who really need treatment at any time of the day and night. As a mother, I need to know there is help if I need it, if my children are ill and it’s not a GP matter or it’s out of hours, which quite often these emergencies are after all children can’t choose when they are sick or need emergency help, but often it is at night when A&E is the only option as calling out a GP can take up to four hours and by then if it’s something as deadly as meningitis it could well be too late.
The Royal Free is already overloaded and the Middlesex is too far – the new medical centre in Park Road, must have cost millions and it is not even treating A&E patients. It’s crazy to close the Whittington A&E – have these people really considered the implications?
Somehow I doubt it!