Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 6, February 22, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Building the Resistance and Seizing the Initiative

Thousands of East Londoners Condemn Plans
to Cut Beds in New Whipps Cross Hospital

Action of Waltham Forest Save Our NHS health campaign group at the Department of Health

More than five and a half thousand residents of North East London have demanded safe bed numbers and a full blue light 24/7 accident and emergency service, with all the necessary specialisms to support it, when a new Whipps Cross Hospital is built to replace the old hospital, once state-of-the-art. There are serious concerns that the plans are not adequate, and would amount to a downgrade of the hospital, and that staff and people in the local region are being excluded from decision-making.

Whipps Cross is one of six new hospitals promised to the country in 2019. It will serve an area that has the fastest growing population in London. Thousands of people signed a petition calling for Whipps Cross, as their local hospital, to be adequately funded when Barts Health Trust rebuild it - including a commitment to provide more hospital beds.

The petition - with 5,703 signatories - was handed over to officials at the Department of Health and Social Care on Friday, February 14, by representatives of the Waltham Forest Save Our NHS group[1], and other supporters from across North East London, holding placards and three huge red hearts.

Barts Trust has admitted that 240 more beds will be needed across the Trust, even if community services were as good as they could be[2]. However, there are no plans for more beds in any other of the hospitals which comprise the Barts Trust, and it is now proposed that there will be even fewer beds in the new hospital than there are currently in Whipps Cross (approximately 600)[3]. After submitting their first plan, Barts were instructed to come up with a less costly proposal with fewer beds.

Action of Waltham Forest Save Our NHS health campaign group at the Department of Health

Helly McGrother, campaign spokesperson and Whipps Cross patient, said:

"We are displaying hearts on Valentine's Day to show our love for our local hospital - but we have a serious message to the Government about providing enough beds, adequate A&E services and the right clinical specialisms for our growing population

"We know the NHS is at breaking point. We don't want to see our sick family and friends waiting in ambulances or stuck on trolleys in corridors because there are not enough beds.

"This is a unique chance to build a hospital that's right for the future. We urge the Government to listen to the community, scrutinise the plans carefully and take the opportunity to properly fund the hospital that's needed in North East London."


1. Waltham Forest Save Our NHS health campaign group is affiliated to Keep Our NHS Public, working with other North East London health campaigns. The campaign for proper funding and more beds at the proposed new hospital at Whipps Cross has included, to date, a public meeting of over 100 people, with a panel of speakers including the Barts CEO and John Cryer MP. The campaign has been lobbying MPs, the Barts Board, and the Health Scrutiny Committee, as well as holding numerous stalls in the Whipps Cross catchment area.

2. A local health plan called Transforming Services Together (TST) was launched by Barts Trust and the three local CCGs - Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest - in 2016. The plan took two years to develop and cost at least £3.49m in management consultancy fees. The TST detailed how an extra 550 hospital beds were needed by 2025/26 because of population growth, but could be reduced to 240 partly by shifting care from hospital to the community. (Transforming Services Together Part 2, p 63)

3. Whipps Cross Hospital is in the London borough of Waltham Forest. It is run by Barts Health Trust. The main building dates back to 1903; the need for redevelopment has been evident for many years. In its Strategic Outline Case (SOC) it describes Whipps Cross A&E as "one of the busiest in the country" (p 22). Its catchment population is close to 400,000 (SOC pg 23), projected to grow by 11% by 2029, over 65's by 26% (Whipps Cross Health & Care Strategy 2019, Barts Health Trust, pp 10-11).

Barts Health Trust submitted its Strategic Outline Case to NHS Improvement (NHSI) in 2017. It projected the costs of a rebuild to be nearly £710m, and needing to borrow £516m from the DoH. It expected to raise £56m from land sales at Whipps Cross, and a further £30m from other land sales across the Trust. Bed numbers quoted for the new hospital represented a reduction of approximately 16. After pressure from NHSI, Barts undertook "bridging" work to reduce overall costs by £104m, reduce borrowing by £186.5m and the footprint of the new hospital by the equivalent of 1.75 football pitches. The updated SOC has yet to be submitted. Barts' aim is for the new Whipps Cross to be a "centre of excellence" for the care of frail and elderly people, both for its catchment, and across the Trust (including Newham and Tower Hamlets). It stated in the SOC that patients admitted to Whipps Cross are "more likely to be over 80 years old and more likely to have dementia than patients admitted to Newham University Hospital or the Royal London" (p 5). Yet it plans "fewer overnight inpatient beds", because, it is asserted, more people will be treated in the community rather than in hospital (Building a Brighter Future for Whipps Cross, Oct 2019, p 9).

An independent analysis of the TST wrote that the outcome if the TST does not deliver on the plans would mean: "a disorganised system will be in place, harder for patients to navigate, offering poorer quality of care and even no care for some, and imposing greater burdens of unpaid care on family members, mainly women". (Transforming Services Together: what does East London's plan for health services imply for East Londoners?, Centre for Health and the Public Interest, Nov 2016, p 15).


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