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Anger over Whittington hospital plans

Thousands of patients, staff, residents and trade unionists on Saturday 16 March made their way to the Whittington hospital in Archway, north London, to protest the hospital board's proposals to sell off a third of the buildings, get rid of at least 570 jobs – including 220 nursing staff – and close many beds.

Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition chair, Shirley Franklin, who had helped organise and coordinate the march, said: “Our campaign has had mass support from across the Whittington community. Our health is being put at serious risk. The population is ageing and increasing. So, too, are health needs.“

She said bed occupancy at the hospitals was at a dangerous 94% when safe levels are considered to be 84%. “There have been several recent red alerts because of insufficient bed availability. The nearby hospital at Chase Farm, Enfield, is closing imminently. If there were to be a serious accident at Arsenal football club or a mass flu epidemic, where would patients go?”

She said the situation was a consequence of the governments “so-called health and social care legislation as the board attempts to make Whittington a viable business unit, ready to become a foundation trust, which can be privatised.”

She added, “The dreadful national five year programme of £20bn cuts to the NHS further exacerbates the situation for all hospitals.T he government will have blood on its hands. How can Vince Cable and Philip Hammond demand more cuts to health and more money for defence: more for death and less for health?”