The independent London newspaper

Night bus blow for hospital workers

Opposition mounts to axing of N271 service, ‘a vital route’ for Whittington staff and patients

16 November, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

From left, Islington councillor Michelline Safi Ngongo, London Assembly member Jennette Arnold, Cllr Claudia Webbe and Assembly member Florence Eshalomi with the Islington Labour bus cuts petition

SHIFT workers could suffer if a night bus passing the Whittington Hospital is cut.

The Town Hall, hospital campaigners and trade union Unison have voiced concern at Transport for London’s proposal to withdraw the N271 bus in a bid to save £190,000 a year.

The transport authority says the number of passengers using the bus, which runs between Highgate and Finsbury Square, has fallen following the opening of the Night Tube at weekends. There has also been a drop in use during the week.

However, those fighting the proposed cut say it will put staff – and patients – in a difficult position.

Whittington Unison branch secretary Claire Dixon, a senior phlebotomist, said: “It’s a great concern to hear they are proposing to overhaul the night bus as a lot of staff work in A&E and are reliant on that bus.”

She added that there had been a rise in staff being robbed of mobile phones at night in the street, so it was essential they had safe and cost-effective transport.

Shirley Franklin, of Defend the Whittington Coalition, is concerned about the impact on patients and staff at the Archway hospital. “This is a vital route and should remain so to service the community, day and night,” she said.

A Whittington Health NHS Trust spokesman said: “We would expect any plans for transport configuration to take into acc­ount the potential impact on all public services.”

Town Hall transport chief Claudia Webbe has told Transport for London: “Cuts will impact disproportionately on people who work at night, for example cleaners, security guards and hospital staff. I am therefore especially concerned about the proposal to cut the 271 night bus.”

She added: “I understand that, with the government making unprecedented cuts to TfL’s budget, you are faced with some very difficult spending decisions. However, I am extremely concerned that the proposed changes to central London bus services will have particularly adverse consequences for people on low incomes, people with disabilities, older people, carers and parents.”

If the cut goes ahead, the last 271 would run at 11.45pm, with services starting again at 6am.

Several other routes face reductions in service. These include the 19, 4, 134, 341 and 476 services.

Nearly 500 people have signed a petition started by the Labour Party in Islington calling for TfL to rethink its proposed changes.

Consultation finished last week. TfL says the network reorganisation would allow increases in bus services in outer London.

A TfL spokesman said: “We are carefully reviewing more than 7,000 responses to our central London proposals before making any decisions.”


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