A PATIENT at Whittington Hospital has warned that closing its accident and emergency department would mean longer journeys in traffic-clogged road to alternative casualty units, writes Tom Foot.
David Collins, 59, makes weekly trips to clinics at the Archway hospital and the Royal Free in Hampstead from his home in Tollington Park, Finsbury Park.
The retired secondary school teacher said the taxi journey to the Royal Free from his home during rush hour takes 25 minutes longer than to the Whittington.
Under proposals being considered by NHS bosses, most of the 80,000 A and E patients seen at the Whittington would be diverted to the Royal Free if the unit shut.
He said: “All I’m saying is: I hope I don’t have a heart attack during rush hour. Anyone who knows this area is fully aware of the congestion problems, especially on most of the narrow roads that feed the Royal Free Hospital.
“Twice I witnessed emergency ambulances on blues-and-twos struggling to get to the Royal Free. On arrival, clinics at both sites were heaving with patients.
“A and E departments are not to be tampered with – too much is at stake and it is unbelievable that closure is being contemplated.”
NHS London, the capital’s health funding authority, is considering the closure as it faces a huge drop in the amount of money the government plans to invest over the next five years, cuts being blamed on the recession.
President of the Royal College of GPs Dr Iona Heath, who lives in Islington, said this week: “The Royal Free Hospital is already massively overstretched and so is University College London Hospital. People are already waiting there for ages. The Whittington is not an unwanted casualty.”
Protest organisers plan a mass demonstration in Islington in March. Campaigners will be given cat masks – the hospital is closely linked to the legend of Dick Whittington.
For more information about the campaign visit www.savewhittingtonhospital.mycouncillor.org.uk or www.savethewhittington.org.uk