The Independent London Newspaper
25th March 2017

SAVE THE WHITTINGTON MARCH: Views from the people who marched..

    Whittington March

    (All pictures:

    Monday March 1, 2010

    After the unprecedented size of the Whittington Hospital protest march on Saturday, people who were on the march and writing in with what they saw and thought. We want to hear from everybody - you don't have to be a politician to have your say.

    Wherever you were on the march, email your view now to:

    ANTONIA COX, Conservative PPC for Islington South and Finsbury:

    Conservatives from all over North East London joined this march because we want action to save the Whittington. I've been to see Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and he has told me a  Conservative government would stop the NHS London reorganisation which threatens the Whittington's future. Instead it would carry out a proper clinical review of London's needs, given its growing population and particular health problems. It is all very well for Emily Thornberry to tell marchers she cares about the Whittington but it's her government that is putting this hospital's future in doubt.

    Conservatives will protect health spending in real terms because we don't want to make patients pay for Labour's financial mess. But we would get rid of the politically driven targets that expand bureaucracy, like the million of hours of paperwork which nurses have to do every week".

    JO SHAW, Lib Dem PPC for Holborn and St Pancras

    Saturday's Defend the Whittington march was one of the best marches I've been on. The response from the public along the route was brilliant - so many drivers tooting their support for the campaign sometimes it was deafening! The organisers did a brilliant job - Shirley of the DWHC deserves a medal for all her hard work. Although there were thousands of people, and it was a voluntary event for stewards it felt safe, well-organised and there was great camaraderie among all the demonstrators. So many people turned up with their children, friends, family - it's obvious there is no local support for these crazy plans. The passion of the crowd was inspiring.

    Finally a thank you: I loved the bicycling punk covers band! They were brilliant fun and kept our feet moving in good time all the way to the Whittington. Hats off and thanks to the CNJ and the Tribune  for booking them, for all your work on the campaign and for your great campaign bus too!
    BRIDGET FOX, Lib Dem PPC for Islington South and Finsbury:
    The Whittington march was something special. To march alongside so many people from across north London, united in defending our local hospital was truly moving. Congratulations to Islington Council, the cross-party Defend the Whittington campaign, and some amazing publicity from the Islington Tribune (who were on the march with a bus and a band); you made the march happen. The passion and anger of ordinary people made it huge.
    It's absolutely clear that lslington people value the Whittington and don't want our A&E and maternity services to close. It's much less clear who will take the decision on the Whittington's future. It's absurd that while locally Labour MPs pledge their support, nationally their Government does nothing to intervene. We need to change the system to give us a locally accountable NHS that will improve our health services, not undermine them.
    CATHERINE WEST, Leader of the Islington Labour Party
    I thought Saturday was a brilliant afternoon, I was especially impressed by all the children and older people who came out in support of their hospital. Well done to the Defend the Whittington Campaign, we are behind you all the way. We look forward at council level to working together with everyone to kill this bad idea to do away with our A and E and maternity unit.
    EMMA DIXON, Green Party PPC for Islington North
    My children were up early on Saturday morning making banners.  I was supposed to be preparing my speech for the rally but I ended up on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor painting a black cat on my daughter’s Whittington banner!  There was black paint everywhere.. then we set off to Highbury corner in the rain.
    It was lovely to see so many different people on the march - people from local churches and mosques; from community groups like the Highgate Society and lots of local residents of all ages from 0 to 104. The Routemaster bus and the lovely jazz band gave the march a bit of a carnival atmosphere - thank you.
    There's been a hospital at the Whittington site since 1473. It has been part of the NHS since the NHS was first introduced in 1948. Two-thirds of all the Whittington's patients are admitted through A&E, so without the A&E the hospital would be decimated and many wards would stand empty.
    The Whittington's maternity unit has been rated one of the safest places in the whole of Britain to have your baby. On a personal note, I'd like to thank wonderful Whittington midwives who helped deliver my sons!
    We must all work together to defend the Whittington and to defend our NHS against creeping privatisation. Let's be clear  - this is the responsibility of the current government and I call on the Health Secretary to act now to safeguard the Whittington's future. 
    RICHARD WATTS, Labour councillor for Tollington ward
    The overwhelming strength of the march was the unity of purpose showed by all of the marchers to tell the administrators threatening the future of the Whittington that our hospital is vital to our community and must keep its major services - A&E, maternity and intensive care.  Enormous congratulations are due to the march organisers who have brought together a coalition featuring all shades of political opinion around a clear message: Save our Hospital.
    Frank Dobson MP made his point with typical 'colour' when he said that he wasn't going to let the massive investment in the Whittington made while he was in charge of the NHS be undermined by some "dickhead" bureaucrats.  Our son was born at the Whittington a couple of years ago and we benefited from this investment - state of the art scanning machines and wonderful support from an excellent team of staff.  Talking to people on the march I was struck by how many had similar stories. There are so many people to whom the Whittington is vital that we will simply not let out-of-touch administrators take our hospital away.
    The only disappointing note was a few speakers at the rally trying to use this issue to make cheap party political points.  This doesn't help defend our hospital from the administrators who are thinking about closing it and it threatens the sense of unity which is our best weapon to keep the hospital open.  Happily the negative reaction of the crowd to these party political speeches showed that people agree this campaign is too important to get caught up in party political point scoring.
    Finally, congratulations to Tribune journalist Peter Gruner, who showed he was a born rabble-rouser with his commentary from the open-top bus.
    JESSICA ASATO, Labour candidate in St George's Ward
    It's rare for people to be politically engaged these days, so it was great to see so many local residents joining the march on Saturday to save the Whittington A&E. It is clear that any hope the NHS bureaucrats had of North London residents staying quiet on the future of their hospital has been blown away. It was great that the rain mostly stayed away and that we had some great music to keep us going too!
    JEREMY CORBYN MP, Member of Parliament for Islington North
    CONGRATULATIONS to the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition for the superb organization of a brilliant demonstration;  thanks also to the local police for their cooperation and efficiency in making sure that the march passed off safely and effectively.

    The 5,000 of us who marched on Saturday represented people from Hetty Bower, aged 104, down to parents with new born babies.  We represented every age, outlook and ethnic community that our borough has to offer.

    We did so, because we are passionate in defending a National Health Service free at the point of use, and our local hospital at the Whittington.  The A&E alone deals with over 80,000 emergencies per year and the hospital as a whole of course handles many other consultations and elective surgery.  Any closure of the A&E department would, literally, cut off the lifeblood of the hospital.

    The regional NHS planning group (London North Central) appear to be unaccountable and unconcerned, as they try to centralise services on two major hospitals, thus leaving Haringey and Islington with no major A&E departments of their own.

    I have raised the issue several times in parliament, and I will continue to pressurize ministers and the House to understand that health officials have no business making plans for reducing expenditure, and absolutely no business taking away crucial local services that are so obviously loved and valued by everybody.

    As the MP for North Islington, I am very clear where my priorities lie, keep the Whittington A&E! 

    Add your view to appear on this page:



    whittington march

    Our march was a triumphant demonstration of public anger, not just at the planned closure of the Whittington A&E, but at the total lack of local democracy that the whole sorry affair reveals.

    Governments both Tory and Labour have been attacking local accountability for decades. So Labour politicians can take little credit in this case, despite Jeremy Corbyn's protestations, as it is their Government and their Quango which have brought us to this.

    Had there been proper local democratic control of our NHS, we might not be in this position. But, for Whitehall, it seems losing control is worse than irresponsible management of this kind.

    David Wilson
    Liberal Democrat campaigner, St George's Ward, Islington

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