MP Lynne Featherstone and Cllr David Schmitz
Published: 15 February, 2013
by RICHARD OSLEY
BOSSES at Whittington Hospital did not have the “endorsement” for the controversial sell-off plans they claimed to have from a north London MP.
The hospital was forced into a grovelling apology to Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone after telling the press that she had “endorsed” radical changes which will see half its site sold and staffing restructured.
If a press statement sent out to London newspapers on Monday night had been accurate, Ms Featherstone would have stood alone as the only MP in the hospital’s catchment area to back the changes.
The use of words is of an extra-sensitive nature in neighbouring Haringey where Labour and Lib Dems are expected to closely contest Ms Featherstone’s seat at the next general election.
After Ms Featherstone complained about the use of the word “endorsed” in the press statement, the hospital admitted it had got it wrong and that no such endorsement had been agreed.
A hospital spokesman said: “We apologise to Lynne Featherstone MP whom we recognise is a powerful advocate on behalf of her constituents. A press release was mistakenly sent out without prior approval which unintentionally misstated her position as endorsing our plans.” He added: “The trust would like to thank the MP for finding time to meet us to discuss our plans to invest in patient services for the community’s benefit.”
Ms Featherstone has irritated some campaigners, however, with claims on her blog website that she has won critical assurances over the future of the hospital. In the article posted online her Lib Dem colleague, Haringey councillor David Winskill, said: “I am confident the changes will support improved health facilities and better outcomes for patients.”
Ms Featherstone was not at Tuesday’s public meeting – claiming she had not been invited by organisers and was on ministerial duty in Mozambique with deputy prime minister Nick Clegg anyway. Sceptics say such claims water down opposition to the plans.
Ms Featherstone was represented at the meeting by Haringey Lib Dem councillor, David Schmitz, who was briefly heckled when he mentioned her name. He said: “This campaign should be bigger than any one political party... I want to say we are all in this together.” His comment drew hoots of derision for using a phrase made famous by Prime Minister David Cameron.
• A meeting on the future of the Whittington, organised by Ms Featherstone ,will be held on March 1 from 6pm at Grieg City Academy assembly hall, entrance via Hillfield Avenue, Hornsey, N8.