Boris to axe #Islington and #Haringey #fire stations

July 18, 2013

Local fire station campaigners are meeting next week to discuss the next steps to fight the Mayor of London’s plans to close two local fire stations.

A meeting is taking place in Committee Room 2, Islington Town Hall, 222 Upper Street, 6pm. Tuesday 23 July.

Islington Labour’s  press release

Islington Labour condemns Tory Mayor as he presses on with fire station closure plan

Despite clear public opposition from Londoners, Boris Johnson and the Tory leadership of the London Fire Authority are determined to impose closure of fire stations in London.

Islington Labour has condemned the decision taken today by the Conservative leadership of the London Fire Authority to cut the number of fire stations in London from 112 to 102 and to reduce the number of appliances from 169 to 155. In ‘reprieving’ 2 fire stations at Clapham and New Cross, the Mayor is merely tinkering with a mammoth cuts plan.

Two of the fire stations slated for closure, Clerkenwell and Kingsland, provide emergency cover to a large part of Islington and to Hackney, the City of London and Camden.

Islington Council’s Member for community safety, Paul Convery said:

“This is a dangerous plan proposed by the Mayor of London and Tory leadership of the Fire Authority. The lengthy and comprehensive public consultation has shown that Londoners and their Borough Councils have decisively rejected the fire station closures and called for an alternative financing deal. Labour, Lib Dems and even Tory controlled Councils in London have called for the closure plan to be scrapped. The £45.5 million Fire Brigade cut proposed by the Mayor of London equates to just 0.4% of the total budget under his control. These savings could be found elsewhere in the Mayor’s City Hall empire from savings which have no significant effect on front line services.”

The Tories have simply ignored the obvious conclusion that they should not cut fire stations and fire engines even though there has been a reduction in the number of fire incidents in London in recent years.

Having fewer appliances that take longer to reach fires is not logical. When incidents do happen, it doesn’t make the distance required to reach those fires any shorter.

Responding to the public consultation, Islington Council argued that current fire-fighting response capacity should be maintained and rejected closure of all fire stations

But it also made the case for keeping fire cover for our own Borough:

  • Islington is now the most densely populated borough in the country;
  • Our population is rising fast and will continue to do so in coming years;
  • We have many thousands of residents living in medium and high-rise buildings which require multiple appliance responses to incidents;
  • It takes longer to begin active-fire-fighting in tall buildings than it does for typical homes in more suburban settings;

Modelled response times show our Borough will experience increases in response time and 4 wards will fall outside the 6 or 8 minute target response times.

Islington also argued strongly for keeping Clerkenwell fire station which serves a vital strategic role in central London and serves the sensitive areas of the City and City fringe.

Gary Heather, Labour Group Researcher,


Campaign pressures #Whittington to halt sell-off

July 14, 2013

WOW!  The Whittington community, residents, patients and staff, have (largely) stopped the sell-off – jobs, beds and buildings. A big, big thanks to everyone for being part of our successful campaign!

We are still assessing what we have achieved, but below is what we think we have done. We are still at a loss to understand why the Board felt unable to communicate to us their U-turn. However, some of our questions were clarified at an amicable meeting that we attended yesterday with Robert Aitken, Acting Chair of the Board, Martin Kuper, Medical Director and Caroline Thomsett, the new Director of Communications. We are planning to have another meeting with them to resolve the questions (see attached) that were not answered.

We have forced the Board to do a U-Turn. Instead of diminishing the service that the Hospital provides they are going to increase it.

  • Maternity, a major area of dispute and cuts, will be expanded
  • Beds There is no reduction in beds, but we are still waiting to hear from the Hospital precise details of beds
  • Jobs Because they are now hoping for growth, dependent on commissioning, i.e. demand, it looks as if it is unlikely that the jobs of individuals will be lost. This is still an area of confusion because they currently employ £27 million worth of bank and agency staff, which they intend to stop. We still need to ascertain that the roles will be filled so that, as patients, there are enough staff, medical and administrative.
  • Buildings The Jenner Smallpox Vaccination listed building and the Education Centre will be retained. Fantastic victory, in practice and symbolically. The future of the nurses’ and doctors’ accommodation is not so hopeful. But they will not be sold off (if we lose that one and they are sold off) until after Foundation Trust status is secured. We are developing exciting, constructive ideas as to what can be done with the buildings that relate to the Clinical Strategy. We are proposing that they consider using them, under public ownership and management, for convalescent care for the vulnerable (see below) and for mental health respite care, of which there is a serious lack. This would involved joined-up thinking and practice with Social Services – the Councils – and the Mental Health Trusts, as well as massive fund-raising!
  • Clinical Strategy The ideas behind this are in the attached glossy bumf from the Hospital. The Board repeatedly claim now that it is this that drives the whole Foundation Trust application. It involves early discharge for a speedy recovery!  While we would all agree that it probably is better to recover at home, we are deeply concerned that this refers to “individual medical” needs and does not appear to embed social and physical needs. There are significant numbers of vulnerable people in the Whittington area – with an increasing elderly population, large proportion of carers and single parents and people in single occupancy accommodation and with substantial mental health needs. Such a population would need specific after-care, some might need 24-hour care, so that their every day social-physical needs, such as food shopping, child care, can be properly met. That is why we suggested the development of convalescent accommodation. It is this aspect of the Strategy that we think we need to watch!

Reasons for our success

We have run a relentless campaign ever since Tom Foot, from the Camden New Journal, caught the Board out in their proposals for a sizeable sell-off of buildings, beds, jobs and hospital provision. A proposal that went through their meeting in about 5 minutes, and about which the Board were intransigent and defensive. They now admit that these plans were hopeless! See

We held a huge public meeting, a demonstration, endless leafleting and petitioning on the local streets, lobbied the Hospital Board at every meeting, held regular planning meetings.

We had a strong slogan – Stop the Sell-Off – and a fab designer for our banner, badges and placards – many thanks to Matt Olczak! These really got to the Hospital Management, and worked in terms of media coverage. We have now got a great website ( – many thanks to Tony Marshall.

We are a broad-based coalition – of local campaign groups,  local and hospital trade unions,  local newspapers, political parties and residents and patients. Through these institutions we have been able to spread the word.

It’s not possible here to thank all the many people who have played a part in this success, but DWHC is very grateful to the many activists, the local press campaigns by Islington Tribune, CNJ, Ham & High and Islington Gazette, local politicians Jeremy Corbyn MP and Emily Thornberry MP and to Catherine West, the Trade Unions and Islington Trades Council, local BBC and ITV and to celebrity support.

We have a hunch that our outraged response to the initial Foundation Trust plans got the Minister of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, involved. He said after our demonstration that Foundation Trust conversions should not decimate hospitals. His colleague has said that there would be no job losses at the Whittington.

Massive, active people power campaigns work!

Our Future

We need to assess what we have achieved and what we need to do next regarding the Whittington Hospital, specifically.

We will be meeting with the Board again soon to address outstanding questions (see attached doc). If you have any questions to add, please let us know.

We think it would be useful to have a public meeting in September, with someone from the Board to explain their plans, without the gloss.

We need to recognise that what is happening at the Whittington is part of a Government attack on our NHS, which is gradually being cut, privatised and strangled, largely throughout the Health and Social Care legislation. This has meant that our Hospital has been forced to apply for Foundation Trust status, and why other hospitals are being cut, A and Es are being closed and reduced.

That is why we are supporting and encouraging our Whittington Community to join us at the demonstration at Conservative Party Conference on Sunday 29th September. (Sponsoring Trade Unions will be laying on low cost transport for us).

And now, after we have met with the Board, we need a break!


Shirley Franklin
Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition



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Revised plans published on the future of Whittington Health over the next five years
Whittington Health has today (Tuesday 9 July) published its revised plans on the future of its hospital and community services for around half a million people living in north London.

The plans follow the publication of its estates strategy in January and centre around its revised five-year clinical strategy which will be discussed at the Trust’s next public Board meeting on Wednesday 24 July.

The clinical strategy “Transforming Healthcare for Tomorrow” reaffirms the Trust’s commitment to providing better coordinated care (also known as integrated care) designed around patients’ individual needs and ensuring their experience of Whittington Health’s services is as joined up as possible.

Whittington Health’s ambition is to provide outstanding care to our local communities.  The Trust will continue its pioneering work of providing the most advanced and best coordinated care for its patients in partnership with local GPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups and local authorities.

The trust recognises the community is passionate about The Whittington Hospital and its community health services. Following a three-month listening exercise, the trust has changed its plans. These include the following commitments:

  • The trust will ensure that any service moved closer to home will be in patients’ best interests based on clinical evidence
  • Two buildings initially proposed for sale, the Jenner Building and the Whittington Education Centre, will be retained.
  • There will be further discussions with our commissioners, Islington Council planners and the community on the future of the Waterlow building and the Nurses’ Home.  We are looking for new premises for outpatients’ physiotherapy which is currently located on the ground floor of the
  • There will be a £10 million investment to update our maternity services. This was in the original plan and does not require the sale of the buildings. The trust is seeking an additional £10 million to expand the facilities to beyond 4,000 births
  • We have no plans to close beds. Changes to wards and beds will still happen to ensure the effective running of the hospital but we have no plans to change the overall number of beds. These are dependent on services continuing to be commissioned at The Whittington Hospital.
  • There will be no significant reduction in our workforce. We are committed to keeping the reduction in permanent staff to the absolute minimum and will use our turnover and vacancy rate to manage the workforce.  We will start to reduce the numbers of agency staff we use.

More details of these changes can be found in the Trust’s briefing on its revised plans and at

Chief executive Dr Yi Mien Koh said, “This has been genuine listening exercise. I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave us their views.  Concerns were raised on four key issues:  moving care closer to home, the sale of buildings, reduction in wards and our staff.

We have listened and have made major changes to our plans. We believe our strategy of better coordinated care designed around individual patient’s needs is right.  We will continue our pioneering work in this field to provide high quality care to all our patients and service users.”

On moving care closer to home, Dr Greg Battle, Whittington Health’s medical director for integrated care and a local GP said, “I appreciate people’s concerns and reservations on moving care into the community. I would like to reassure everyone that medical advances mean there has been a reduction in lengths of stay in hospital and the evidence is that patients recover much better when they are at home.

“Our aim is to provide care in the best place and ensure everyone is fully supported. This will include care coordinators and personalised care campaigns for patients with long term conditions and, where appropriate, telehealth and telecare to monitor their conditions.

“Regarding hospital beds, we have reviewed our bed requirements and will retain the overall number of beds while they are needed and commissioned – to ensure patients are treated within national standards and to meet future needs.”

On the future of buildings, chief executive Dr Yi Mien Koh said, “Clearly the future of our buildings was of concern to many people.  Therefore, we have decided to retain the Jenner Building and the Whittington Education Centre.

“The Waterlow building is empty and in a state of disrepair requiring millions of pounds of investment. We will be now talking to our commissioners, Islington Council and the community to develop a planning brief on its future and possible alternative uses. The Nurses Home cannot remain in its current state and will be included in these conversations.  This will take some time to complete and will not affect current student nurses living there.”

On the future of Whittington Health staff, director of organisational development Jo Ridgway said, “We will continue to invest in the skills of our staff and are launching a new strategy “Passionate about People”. Over the next few months, we will be reviewing the skills mix of our staff, but we envisage no significant reduction to our permanent staff over the next five years.”

On the future of maternity services at The Whittington Hospital, divisional director for women, children and families and consultant obstetrician Miss Friedericke Eben, said, “We are looking to improve and grow our popular maternity services. We are already talking to both mums who’ve used our service and future mums on how they would like the £10 million spent on upgrading the facilities. We have exciting plans for the future and hope to secure further investment to expand our service.”

Notes to editors

1. The revised plans published today follow an estates strategy approved by the Trust’s Board in January 2013 as part of the trust’s five-year strategy Transforming Healthcare for Tomorrow. This was subsequently put on hold and a three-month listening exercise launched. Today’s revised plan is in response to the listening exercise which has involved extensive consultation with everyone involved in the hospital.  Further details on the main themes from the listening exercise can be found at

2. We are continuing to work on our five year strategy over the next few months including our service development and workforce plans. Progress will be reported to our Board meetings later in the year. The main points outlined above will be included in our detailed plans.

3. If you would like further information on our revised plans, please contact the Communications Department on 0207 288 3915.