Leytonstone News

NHS forced to spend healthcare funds repairing ageing Whipps

Council leader Grace Williams wrote to the new Health Secretary yesterday
By Waltham Forest Echo

Whipps Cross Hospital was first built in 1903
Whipps Cross Hospital was first built in 1903

The local NHS has been forced to spend money intended for healthcare on urgent repairs to the crumbling Whipps Cross Hospital, a letter from the council leader reveals.

Yesterday, Waltham Forest Council leader Grace Williams wrote to the new health secretary Thérèse Coffey, urging the government to provide a “timeline for full delivery of the funds needed” to rebuild the ageing hospital.

The new hospital in Leytonstone, which councillors recently heard is the government’s “first or second” priority nationwide, was built in 1903 and still boasts many buildings that are over a century old.

While “outline” plans to rebuild were approved by the council in November last year, the Department of Health and Social Care has so far only agreed to hand over £28million to build a new multi-storey car park and carry out “necessary works on local road junctions”.

In her letter, Cllr Williams offered her congratulations to MP Coffey on her new role in the cabinet and her “sincere gratitude” for the first chunk of funding.

She went on: “Whilst the release of these funds is encouraging, we are now calling on the government to follow up with an announcement and timeline for full delivery of the funds needed for the redevelopment.

“Since the exciting announcement that our hospital, with its aged and deteriorated infrastructure, would be awarded funding, we have done everything to ensure the site is shovel ready. 

“There are some real infrastructural challenges at Whipps Cross Hospital and the current condition of the hospital is not up to the necessary standard. 

“This was emphasised when the hospital was flooded in July 2021 following heavy rainfall. This caused significant disruption as patients were forced to move, generating substantial safeguarding concerns, and had to reschedule thousands of appointments.

“Funds that should be spent on improving care have necessarily been used on repairing the building. 

“With extreme weather incidents becoming commonplace as a result of the climate emergency, we fear it is only a matter of time before something like this happens again.”

Cllr Williams noted that the hospital rebuild moving ahead is a “top priority” for residents of Waltham Forest and neighbouring boroughs like Redbridge, inviting MP Coffey to join her and Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal for a visit to the hospital.

The government is not currently expected to make any further funding announcements about Whipps Cross until December at the earliest.