In the second of a series of articles looking at the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital, Wanstead resident Charlotte Monro explains why she is supporting a petition calling for government funding
Our community desperately needs a new hospital. Rebuilding Whipps has wide support, not least in Wanstead, as I discovered when gathering signatures on the High Street for our petition calling on the government to fund the build.
Quite a team is now set up at Whipps, working on more detailed proposals for the new hospital. I recently attended a community partners’ workshop as one of five Waltham Forest Save Our NHS delegates. Redbridge was also well represented with Councillor Dan Morgan-Thomas and Mike New, chair of Redbridge Health Watch. We were told the redevelopment work from now until September is focused on (one) developing ideas for how health services will be delivered in the future and the size of hospital needed, and (two) options for the land occupied by Whipps. This will inform a revised ‘Strategic Outline Case’ to be submitted to the NHS powers that be in December, the first hurdle for government approval.
I believe it is vital that we, the communities who rely on our hospital, have a determining voice in these decisions. Certainly, this was the spirit among people attending the workshop.
Discussion about the future shape of services showed peoples’ concern that the hospital must be designed with enough beds. They challenged the realism of expectations that care in the community – already over-stretched – will significantly reduce the need for hospital care, and therefore the size of hospital needed. Back in 2016, the local health strategy made this assumption; some excellent community intermediate care services are now in place, but pressure on hospitals appears no less. “Rigorously evaluate predictions around bed numbers – have previous plans achieved what they promised?” is the message now recorded. Even the head of NHS England says the loss of beds has gone too far, we now need more.
Can our new hospital be a model for environmental design? This we also asked. Surely, as we face the tipping point for climate change, this is a time for a carbon neutral hospital. The healthcare sector is responsible for anywhere from 3–10% of all carbon emissions worldwide. But some hospitals around the world have paid dividends through design features, such as those that allow natural sunlight to permeate throughout the building, offering the dual benefit of cutting back on winter heating costs and offering proven health benefits for patients over artificial lighting. So, where and how the new Whipps is positioned on the site could be crucial. Expertise in environmental design must be brought in now.
Such an investment in a new hospital with enough beds for the growing population is a priority. Without adequate funding, it cannot happen. Please sign our petition and share it.