Scrap this secretive Whittington Hospital contract
06 April, 2018
• HOW interesting that Stephen Collinson, managing director of a major property company, is telling us what’s “top of the agenda for the NHS”. He says the big priority for the NHS is the disposal of extremely valuable NHS public land and buildings.
Mr Collinson can’t wait to get his hands on invaluable Whittington hospital and community health real estate, but hopefully NHS Improvement (the new regulator) won’t let his subsidiary company, Ryhurst, or any other asset-stripping and secretive finance operation anywhere near our well-loved district hospital.
The proposed 10-year “partnership” contract with the Whittington would give Ryhurst access to, and great influence over, NHS assets.
The finances of the deal are complex and hidden. But that shouldn’t worry us, given a nationwide record of contracts with big for-profit companies which have left a trail of devastation using scarce public money to pay two, three or many more times over the value of projects. The companies then get away with their rewards, sometimes coming back for more.
Mr Collinson talks about getting value from “NHS land and existing facilities no longer required for the provision of healthcare”. Exactly when and by whom has this been determined? The vast majority of patients, NHS staff, residents and elected representatives have had no say in the matter.
It looks like most are horrified by the idea of Ryhurst being involved, and would not agree to NHS assets and resources funding Ryhurst, city investors, banks and their consultants. It may be “just business”. But the NHS and Whittington are our business.
For Steve Hitchins, chairman of the Whittington board, to say the NHS can’t manage without the likes of Ryhurst suggests that as a nation we are so helpless and hapless that it is our best bet. We have great, public-spirited expertise, imagination and skills available to our NHS to manage its estates.
The Department of Health should be looking after patients’ interests and stop this secretive, unethical contract going ahead.
Management at the Whittington comes and goes with varying agendas, but a community coalition has been there for many years with the sole purpose of protecting hospital services, beds and staff for the benefit of patient care.
The Whittington is a community hospital in the true sense, despite attempts to thwart the community coalition and its defence of a good decent public NHS.