Whittington debated in Parliament today

March 9, 2010

Health Care in London was discussed in parliament today.

Click here to check out who said what.

In the debate Andrew Lansley (Shadow Health Secretary) made the point that there has been an increase of 20 % in management costs and £25 million was spend on management consultancy costs in 2008. In short, money has been going towards funding the likes of Rachel Tyndall and Richard Sumray, who are now in charge of closing essential services for local people . Brilliant !

I’ve copied and pasted the bits of the debate related to the Whittington below. Please note that while the Health Minister says he is not convinced that the Whittington A&E needs to close, he also avoided the question if he would talk to North London officials now and stop the process.

I’ll read the entire debate properly tonight – got to rush off now.


Andrew Lansley:

“I see the former Secretary of State, the right hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Frank Dobson), in his place. He was out with his colleagues and others protesting about the possible closure of the emergency department at the Whittington, which is on the same scale. We should work with hospitals in London and say that, yes, we may need to design better services, a care pathway that extends out into the community and services that are more integrated around patients instead of having a primary-secondary divide, but we should give the hospitals the opportunity to deliver those services. We have a lot of hospital sites in London, many of which are accessible to much of the population, and we can deliver services from them rather than shut them down and open polyclinics (…)”

Emily Thornberry (Islington, South and Finsbury) (Lab): Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that NHS Islington is currently engaged in a so-called pre-consultation about the future of our greatly loved Whittington hospital? That so-called consultation is as chaotic and incoherent as it is alarming and wrong. Will he instruct NHS Islington to listen to local MPs and the public and dismiss any suggestion that Whittington A and E and maternity unit should close?

Mr. O’Brien (Minister of Health): As my hon. Friend knows, I have said in a debate on the Floor of the House in December that I have concerns about what is happening in relation to the Whittington. She has fought a strong fight on the issue and spoken to me about it on several occasions. We need to see strong clinical evidence for any change to the status of the Whittington. It is being discussed locally, but the national clinical advisory group will need to look at any case put forward. It is local now, but we have invested £32 million in the Whittington, much of it in A and E, and unless the case for change is established, there will be no change. At the moment I am not convinced of the need for the Whittington A and E to close. Those discussing these things need to know that. I have serious concerns about it and I would want to see a serious clinical case made for saying that the £32 million that the Government have decided to invest in the Whittington should be overridden. I do not see any justification for closure of the A and E at this time, and I would want to hear the case for closing it during the next Parliament. I have seen no such case.


Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry). The overwhelming case for retention of the Whittington A and E has been made and continues to be made, but we discover that officials from the north central London NHS review are still working on a plan that we believe involves closure of the A and E, and they will not publish that plan for several months. Will he ensure that all the plans are published now so that the public can see what is being thought up by officials?

Mr. Mike O’Brien: If my hon. Friend will forgive me, I want to return to the various discussions that have taken place, the minutes and the proposals being circulated. Engaging with clinicians, and how we engage with them, is important.

Lynne Featherstone (Hornsey and Wood Green) (LD) rose—

Mr. O’Brien: I will give way to the hon. Lady, but then I want to make some progress.

Lynne Featherstone: I welcome the Minister’s remarks because, as he knows, the socio-demographic circumstances around Whittington hospital make the area one of the most deprived in London. My concern is that, of the seven current options, four suggest closing the accident and emergency department. That seems to be a huge waste of resource and energy when the money is needed in front-line services. Will he talk to north central London officials now and stop the process, because, as the hon. Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn) said, the case has been made for retention of the A and E department?

Mr. O’Brien: I hear what the hon. Lady says, but if she reads my comments just now and listens carefully, she will realise that, in a sense, I have addressed some of those points already.


2 Responses to “Whittington debated in Parliament today”

  1. Wilson John Haire Says:

    We have seen this twisting and turning in Parliament before. On February the 23rd, 1971, Michael O’Halloran,
    MP for Islington North, said in Parliament that there were rumours about the the closure of the Royal Northern Hospital on Holloway Road. He was assured by the Under Secretary for Health and Social Security, Michael Allison that the hospital’s role was secure and numbered in years. Our present health minister tells us something similar: `For the time being.’ the Whittington A&E is safe. The Royal Northern closed in 1992. I don’t remember any protest about this or a campaign from MPs. Obviously we have to rely on ourselves by demonstrating in the streets.

  2. […] have raised concerns that the closure plans do not seem to be based on any evidence whatsoever. And as reported on this blog Health Minister Mike O’Brien said in parliament on Tuesday that he had not seen any clinical […]

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