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The independent London newspaper

Corbyn praise for Whittington campaign victory

Labour leader: Hospital abandoning plans to hire profit-making firm is of ‘great significance’

17 July, 2018 — By Tom Foot

JEREMY Corbyn praised the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition for a campaign victory of “great significance” during his speech at the Whitehall NHS rally.

The Labour leader was speaking as thousands assembled outside Downing Street on the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service.

Two days earlier, the Whittington board had officially confirmed it had “abandoned” plans to hire a profit-making firm for a 10-year estates contract.

The deal with Ryhurst – a subsidiary of Grenfell contractor Rydon – was stopped followed an eight-month anti- privatisation campaign by the DHWC, the Islington Tribune and its sister paper, the Camden New Journal.

“And if I could be allowed just to say something locally as it is of great significance,” Mr Corbyn told the massive rally. “I wanted to say thank you to Defend Whittington campaign who some years ago prevented the closure of its A&E, and thus the hospital, and for winning a campaign now. The hospital wanted to outsource all of its building management and construction to a private company, called Ryhurst associated with Rydon.

“On Thursday, we got the news. They retreated. It’s all staying public.”

There was a big cheer from the assembled crowd and Mr Corbyn added: “All of our campaigns say that the principle of the NHS is there for us, for all time and free at the point of use. To me, it is socialism in action.”

On Thursday, Whittington Health NHS trust released a statement saying it was “no longer necessary” to hire a private partner to help with its “estates strategy” and the service could be provided “in-house”.

“All of the bidders have been informed of the board’s decision,” its statement added.

The board had last October announced Ryhurst as its chosen “strategic estate partner”, triggering uproar from campaigners who criticised the choice of company so soon after the Grenfell disaster.

The Justice4Grenfell group had said they questioned the decision while the Grenfell inquiry was ongoing.

There was a packed public meeting in Islington Town Hall and one board meeting was “occupied” by

DWHC campaigners. Rydon was the lead contractor responsible for the refurbishment of the tower block in west London.

Rydon has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing over its work on Grenfell Tower, and it strongly rejects any culpability and maintains that it met government regulations with its refurbishment and cladding work.

Mr Corbyn, the MP for Islington North, had also called for NHS trusts to provide services in-house rather than using public funds to hire private companies.

DWHC chairwoman Shirley Franklin said: “This campaign has shown how we work as a coalition. It is the third campaign we have waged for our hospital and the third that we have won! We would like to thank all those who have helped us in our campaign – including our MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Catherine West and Emily Thornberry, and a very special huge thanks to the Islington Tribune for making it known across our community.” She has called for chief executive Marian Harrington and chairman Steve Hitchins to resign over the Ryhurst saga.

Ryhurst has not responded to requests for comment.

The Whittington celebrated the 70th anniversary or the NHS with a series of public events at the hospital yesterday (Thursday).

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