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Anxieties over kids’ health care

15 October, 2020

Concerns at the hospitals shake-up of children’s health care

• DEFEND the Whittington Hospital Coalition campaigns for high quality health care services that are local and accessible for children and all patients and stand alongside those fighting to defend their services.

Children’s illnesses, accidents and mental health challenges are deeply distressing.

So we are concerned that the arrangements to temporarily relocate children’s services – accident and emergency, in-patient and children and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS – from University College Hospital and the Royal Free to the expanded provision at the Whittington Hospital has caused additional anxiety to families and staff of ill children, (Nurses quit as decision to close children’s A&E units sparks huge backlash, October 1).

We understand that these arrangements have been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are clear that since 2010 the Conservative government has cut 10,000 beds, reducing the spare capacity that had been allowed for in case of the type of emergency in which we are currently embroiled. This shortage of capacity has forced hospitals to make alternative arrangements for Covid-19.

We have been told that the Royal Free and UCLH have increased their capacity to treat Covid-19 patients and the relocation to the Whittington is to create a Covid-free safe environment, attempting to address the fears that stopped people from bringing their children for hospitals care during height of the pandemic, (Changes for the benefit of children and young people, October 8).

The new Whittington unit is staffed by paediatric staff from UCLH, RFH and Great Ormond Street Hospital, in addition to the current Whittington paediatric teams. This has meant that patients and staff have had to transfer from their more familiar hospitals and workplaces to the Whittington.

This dislocation has clearly added additional upset to families and staff. Some of the local anxieties have been caused by lack of information to the families in our area.

It is vital that all families in treatment are informed and reassured by their paediatric teams of the changes of location and that the health authorities better inform our population about temporary changes to children’s emergency services and where to go for treatment and emergencies.

The management at the Whittington Hospital have assured us in writing that the new arrangements: First, do not involve any cuts in provision, staff or quality of provision of children’s A&E, in-patients and CAMHS care across the three hospitals. Second, are temporary until March 2021.

Our campaign has always sought to defend health provision, not just at the Whittington Hospital but locally and nationally.

If at any juncture there are attempts to change this relocation to a permanent arrangement we will join forces across Camden and Islington to mount a campaign to reverse that decision, so that each of the three hospitals reverts to well-resourced paediatric departments that meet the health and mental health needs of their local children.

Chair Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition


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