Health Review


Following a recent announcement that funding for a new Whipps Cross Hospital has been secured, John Cryer MP reflects on an East London institution and vows to hold ministers to account

You may be aware that I have been campaigning for quite some time with local residents, Waltham Forest and Redbridge Councils and colleagues cross party for a new hospital at the Whipps Cross site. Whipps has been an East London institution for over a century. It was built during the First World War: many of the first patients cared for there were servicemen injured on the Western Front.

To remind you of the recent background, plans have been in the offing for a new hospital for some years. When Boris Johnson was prime minister, he promised 40 new hospitals. That number subsided to six, went up to 14, then dropped to 12.

There have always been issues that have sparked debate. The original plans were for a cut of 50 beds. After numerous meetings and letters, Bart’s Trust wrote to me to say the new hospital would have the same number of beds as we have at present. That was a step forward, although demographic changes mean that, in my view, bed numbers should be rising.

There is still an argument between me and the trust on the future of the Margaret Centre, which provides outstanding end-of-life care and which will not survive in its current form under the plans.

Steven Barclay (Health Secretary) tweeted last August that the money for a new car park and other preparatory work at Whipps was available. Since then, nothing has happened and there have been no further comments. This has been deeply unfair to the trust managers, patients and to all those who work extremely hard at Whipps, usually for inadequate wages. The radio silence and lack of government commitment to the new hospital has been vexing. I therefore welcome the Department of Health’s renewed commitment to the new hospital, announced recently. I am told the scheme will be delivered by 2030. The local NHS’s preferred way forward is to build a new district general hospital at Whipps Cross in a single-phase build. This will provide a range of patient services, including emergency and maternity, on a cleared site that was formerly the nurses’ accommodation.

I will continue to monitor the progress of the project and to hold ministers and the development team to account. I want to express my gratitude to our great nurses, doctors and NHS staff who have worked so hard for so long in very dilapidated buildings.

I know the affection local people across Redbridge have for Whipps Cross. Residents will have been born, had babies of their own and had relatives cared for at the hospital. What the local community needs is not just a new hospital but the right kind of new hospital, with appropriate services for a rapidly growing population.

To contact John Cryer MP, visit johncryermp.co.uk or call 020 8989 5249

Author: Editor