IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Secret talks on move by world-famous eye hospital

‘It will be a big loss’ warning as renowned Moorfields considers other sites

05 May, 2017 — By Koos Couvée, Tom Foot

Moorfields, in City Road, could move to St Pancras Hospital

A WORLD-famous eye hospital is on the brink of sealing a major deal to move out of its historic home, the Tribune can reveal.

Moorfields, in City Road, Finsbury, has held secret talks with top-level council and health chiefs about leaving Islington.

The NHS trust’s relocation project – a long-held ambition stretching back several years – will see the trust shut down all its buildings around Old Street and move to a single site, with St Pancras Hospital emerging as the favourite location.

Claudia Webbe, ward councillor for Bunhill, in which the hospital is located, said: “Historically, it has always been here and it’s a big part of Islington and our ward. My agenda for some time has been to encourage [Moorfields] chiefs to stay. I think it will be a big loss to the borough.”

The move comes as Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust prepares for a major sell-off of its old Victorian hospital buildings and land to free up space for a Moorfields development at its St Pancras Hospital base. Documents – dropped into the Tribune’s offices by a concerned patient – show the trust is considering three options: do nothing; move St Pancras patients to a new site “behind the Whittington Hospital” in Archway; or to St Ann’s Hospital in Tottenham. St Pancras has several psychiatric wards for inpatients from Islington.

Cllr Claudia Webbe

Under the plans, the Moorfields site would be sold to property developers “for housing”. The North Central London Sustainability and Transformation Plan – a five-year blueprint for health services in Islington, published in September last year – outlines potential site redevelopments at St Ann’s, St Pancras and Moorfields.

Moorfields director of strategy Johanna Moss said: “This new, co-located facility will enable clinicians and researchers to collaborate more freely, to the benefit of Moorfields’ patients and for people with sight problems around the world, now and in the future.

“Discussions are progressing with the preferred site’s present owners to secure a location that will enable the construction of a new, state-of-the-art building which will house a world-leading ophthalmic clinical, research and educational facility.”

She added: “We will not be going to market for the City Road site until we have had approvals from our NHS and university partners and we will work with a property development partner to secure final planning permission on the current site.”

A spokesman for the foundation trust said: “We are exploring various options which we have shared as part of an informal engagement process with our key partners, including service users and staff.”

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