Thousands back campaign to ensure Whipps Cross bed numbers, reports James Cracknell
Campaigners handed in a petition with 5,703 signatures calling for the new Whipps Cross University Hospital to have more beds than the existing site.
Barts Health NHS Trust is pushing ahead with plans to rebuild the Leytonstone hospital, after the government pledged to fund it last year. However, the trust has repeatedly refused to give any guarantee that there won’t be a loss of beds.
Campaign group Waltham Forest Save Our NHS set up a petition last year. Activists handed it directly to officials at the Department of Health on Valentine’s Day, dressing for the occasion as hearts and flowers.
Helly McGrother, a campaigner and Whipps Cross patient, said: “We dressed as hearts and flowers 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.”
In an interview last year, Whipps Cross redevelopment director Alastair Finney told the Echo: “I am not able to guarantee [more beds] because of where we are in the process. I do acknowledge people’s concerns – the hospital is under significant pressures.”
The new hospital is designed to be better integrated with the community, reducing unnecessary A&E visits. If plans are approved, work on the rebuild could begin in 2023.