Category Archives: Campaigns

Letter to London Mayoral Candidates (2021)

We are writing to you regarding future provision of health services in North East London, particularly proposals for a new Whipps Cross hospital in Waltham Forest. Whilst plans for a new hospital at Whipps Cross are to be welcomed, there are four concerns that could inhibit the building of a new hospital that is truly fit for purpose for the increasing needs of the local area.

Firstly, designs for the new Whipps Cross hospital propose that the facility will have 51 fewer beds, despite statistics from Waltham Forest Council predicting the local population will increase by 19%, from 277,100 residents in 2020 to 329,200 in 2050.

Secondly there are concerns that facilities & services at the new hospital will be less comprehensive than pre-pandemic. In particular, the scope of surgical provision may not support the range of surgical emergencies that could present via a Blue-light A&E. In fact, Alastair Finney, Director of the Whipps Cross Redevelopment, implied at a public engagement meeting, that aside from Maternity and A&E, there will be a limited range of surgical provision at the new Whipps Cross. This is concerning, as an article in the Health Service Journal on the 18th December 2020, reported Whipps Cross had to turn ambulances away; the article emphases that Whipps Cross hospital is currently much smaller than neighbouring hospitals and at the height of the crisis, neighbouring hospitals were unable to help out.

Thirdly, Barts Health NHS Trust have said proposals for the new hospital at Whipps Cross will follow an Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) model. Proposals for ICSs are contained in the new NHS White Paper, however, should community and Primary Care facilities not be available, the ICSs model could bring in the private sector to run inadequate local services. This could complicate provision of comprehensive, health care and restrict access when demand is on the increase. ICSs also utilise a ‘single pot’ limited budget, with ‘system control’ totals that will compel healthcare provision with each ICS ‘footprint’ to stay within budget. The new Whipps Cross has been designed, despite a £400 million shortfall in Government funding.

Fourthly, there is concern the Margaret Centre for Specialist Palliative Care Unit will not be included in plans for Whipps Cross Hospital. For 34 years The Margaret Centre has provided outstanding care for people who are dying and support for those close to them. No comparable service exists in Waltham Forest and much of Redbridge. The Margaret Centre provides holistic care with a multi-disciplinary team working across the community and inpatient setting. Care is therefore seamless. If someone does need admission to the unit for end of life care, they are amongst staff who know them and the family, in surroundings that are more calm and homely than clinical, but with the highest clinical expertise.

Therefore, we request that you urge Barts Health NHS Trust to agree the following points:

  1. Reinstate 51 beds in new Whipps Cross hospital designs to ensure capacity for growing population.
  2. Ensure A&E services retain sufficient facilities and clinical expertise for elective and emergency surgery at WhippsCross to avoid undue pressure on emergency services in other hospitals across North East London and most importantly to avoid patients being turned away due to under- capacity.
  3. Keep Margaret Centre for Specialist Palliative Care Unit at new Whipps Cross hospital.
  4. Secure funding for new hospital to address £400 million shortfall and avoid capped budgets.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our concerns. Waltham Forest Save OurNHS

Open letter to all North East London MPs

We really welcome Bart’s commitment to building a new hospital at Whipps Cross, but are concerned about the funding and details of their proposals. Despite our population growth they’re proposing a cut of at least 51 beds and assume vastly improved community services will support this. We fear there’s a serious risk that sick people could fall through the net.

We’re fighting for a hospital designed for our community’s future needs, properly financed and sustainably built.

We’re concerned that decisions are being made behind closed doors and have real concerns about some of their proposals so we will be sent the following open letter to all the North London MP’s

To All North East London MPs 

We are writing to you as our parliamentary representatives for North East London about our concerns regarding the new Whipps Cross Hospital.

While welcoming the development of a much needed new hospital we have major concerns outlined below:

  • 51 fewer beds are proposed for the new hospital at Whipps Cross (running pre-Covid at 98% occupancy) despite a huge population growth across our area.
  • The so called ‘flexibility’ of the bed plans will mean more patients from the Whipps Cross catchment going to other hospitals in North East London. 

There is already evidence of bed shortages in Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust. Fewer beds in Whipps Cross will mean pressure on hospitals from Hackney to Romford with the risk that some residents may not receive the timely hospital care that they need.

  • The highly specialised and valued Palliative Care Unit at the Margaret Centre and the holistic multi-disciplinary services it offers, will not be provided as a distinct  specialist unit in the new Whipps Cross.

In practice this will mean more patients dying in distress on hospital wards or at home, without the support patients and their families currently receive from the Margaret Centre. No comparable services exist for the populations of Waltham Forest and much of Redbridge.

  • Although Barts Trust justify these cuts in beds and service provision by assuming  extra investment in the community, everybody knows that community services both in health and social services are under-funded, under -resourced and overstretched.
  • The imperative for the new Whipps Cross to be net zero carbon and truly sustainable also calls for appropriate resourcing.
  • We believe that all these issues are linked to insufficient government funding to build the new hospital and ask you to use your position to advocate on our behalf for more funding, more beds and a ring-fenced palliative Care unit at the new Whipps Cross.

This needs your urgent attention as in February 2020 Barts are seeking planning permission for their outline plans. It would be a travesty if this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for a new hospital yielded the same unsafe pressures as currently. 


We are asking you all to work together to raise our concerns with the Secretary of State for Health, and in the House of Commons. Thank you.

Get involved in saving our NHS!

‘Waltham Forest – Save Our NHS’ aims to support the NHS in Waltham Forest to continue as a not-for-profit service, providing best quality healthcare, free to all users at the point of delivery, and funded through taxation. We raise public awareness of any local or national changes to the NHS and challenge any service changes or cuts that threaten the quality of healthcare in Waltham Forest.

We are currently very busy campaigning against the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). As you may know, our local NHS services in North East London are at risk of massive reorganisation and funding and service cuts through the Transforming Services Together (TST) proposals, which are in turn part of an umbrella STP for the whole of North East London. Our local STP and TST are just 1 instance of the 44 STP health areas across England. This national programme is being conducted largely in secrecy with no meaningful consultation with the public or NHS staff; it could result in £22 billion of cuts, reconfigurations, fragmentation and privatisation of NHS care .

Get involved: we are not currently regularly updating this website, but please follow our Facebook page and contact us at for more information about the group, to get added to our email list or to find out the date of our next meeting. Meetings of the group normally take place monthly at 7.30 on Monday evenings at Ye Olde Rose & Crown, 55 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London E17 4SA and are open to all residents of Waltham Forest who support the aims of the group.

Shut the door on Care UK

Doctors are saying Care UK shows ‘total disregard’ for patient safety. This company has no place in our NHS. Please protect patients and kick Care UK out of our hospitals. Sign the petition.

Why is this important?

The truth about NHS privatisation has been exposed. An undercover investigation has found shocking care failures by private health business Care UK. It’s been caught leaving dangerously ill patients waiting for hours, and using work experience students instead of nurses.

This is what happens when private companies get their hands on our NHS. Care UK boasts that they are the single biggest business helping to privatise the NHS. If we can kick them out of our NHS, it’ll be a major blow to the government’s privatisation project.

Huge public outcry will pile pressure on hospital bosses to shut the door on Care UK – at every hospital they approach.

Please sign the petition to stop Care UK making a profit out of our hospitals. Your name will be added to a petition to the CCG group where you live – the group of NHS bosses in charge of contracting our local services. Together, let’s prove that Care UK aren’t wanted anywhere near our NHS.

Land sell off at Whipps Cross

Our campaign against the land sell-off at Whipps Cross Hospital is gathering momentum and we could use your help.

The land would be sold for around £11 million (we have heard). Once sold, that land cannot be used to improve services at Whipps Cross. Barts Health NHS Trust which runs Whipps has a huge deficit, due in part to the massive repayments the trust has to make on PFI deals used to rebuild the Royal London (Whitechapel) and Newham Hospital. The PFI repayments are £131 million per year. £11 million would be a drop in the ocean and it is really not worth compromising the future of Whipps Cross as a viable district hospital.

Please email if you would like some postcards for you and your family to sign. We will need these back in early September when we plan to hand them all in to Barts Health’s Board of Directors.

The PFI Scandal

The PFI Scandal

At our recent public meeting Mary Burnett gave this sobering and terrifying summary of the PFI scandal.

I want to talk about the scandal of Private Finance Initiative, PFI. How PFIs have turned our hospitals into investment and profit making opportunities for private companies and big banks. And how I think this amounts to the most insidious privatisation of our health service, that is barely talked about either in the media, or by most of our politicians.

When WX, Newham and Barts & the London merged in 2012 it became the biggest hospital Trust in the country. With the biggest PFI – used to build the new Royal London and to redevelop Barts. These hospitals cost just over £1bn to build, but Barts will pay more than £7bn over the 42 years of the PFI contract.

And Barts now has the biggest hospital debt in the country – over £93m.

In 2002 George Monbiot wrote in “ Private Affluence, Public Rip- Off” “ A study by a consultancy company which works for the DoH shows that every £200m spent on PFI hospitals will result in the loss of 1000 doctors and nurses. The first PFI hospitals contain some 28 fewer beds than the ones they replaced”.

And in an article in the Guardian in 2013 John Lister wrote : “ PFI is the reason why – no matter how many mgt consultants are paid £1000s a day, or what horrific plan an administrator might hatch up – there is no solution within the Barts Trust without wholesale cuts in services and staffing that would potentially put patient care at risk”.

And that’s exactly what’s happened. Before it was built, the 2 top floors at the Royal London were mothballed. There are now plans to have a wing there for private patients – despite ambulance queues at WX.

And in 2013/14 we saw posts cut, staff downbanded, Charlotte’s dismissal, staff leaving, a growing culture of bullying, rising agency costs, – all culminating in the CQC report on WX and Barts → special measures.

So why do PFIs destabilise hospitals? Why are they such a scandal?

PFIs involve private companies, and investment banks raising loans to build hospitals ( or schools, roads, prisons ).The companies/banks then own the buildings – at least for the duration of the contract, and any services or maintenance are tied into the contract. It’s been likened to taking out a mortgage for your home and having any maintenance, repairs, decoration, provided by one specified company, and tied into your mortgage contract.

So at Barts, Skanska and Innisfree – a construction and investment company respectively – own and operate the PFI. Barts leases the hospitals, and pays Skanska and Innisfree a charge that includes capital costs, interest repayments, and the cost of the services. This year that charge is £2.5m a week. In 10 years it will increase – because the interest is index linked – by a massive 26% to £3.2 m a week. That’s the pressure that results in cuts.

And across the country we have 118 hospital PFIs and 720 PFI contracts in total.

So what’s the scandal?

1) The interest being paid to banks and private investors is at least 1.5 – 2 % higher than if the hospital had been funded through govt borrowing. And for some of the loan, the interest is as high as 15%. Barts is £93m in deficit this year, and paid £43m in interest alone on its PFIs.

2) And there’s a whole market in companies refinancing the debt and selling on their shares in PFIs. Between 1998 and 2010 there were 166 transactions in shares held by companies in health PFIs. Not only does this show the confidence investment banks and business have in the profits they can make, it also illustrates, with alarming clarity, how much our hospitals have become enmeshed in the financial markets. And the amounts being made can be quite staggering. Carillion, for example, has had shares in more than 17 hospital PFIs and boasts they lead the market in selling them on. They made a cool £12m on a £4m investment in a hospital in Kent, and nearly £20m on a £12m investment in Portsmouth.

3) And profit making doesn’t end with high interest rates or selling shares. The services provided through the PFI contract can be a nice little earner for those involved.

– Skanska and Innisfree took £22.7m in 8 years just for buying in the services as part of the Barts PFI contract.

– The contract at Barts to provide services like portering, cleaning and catering is worth £30m a year to Carillion

– and last year Barts managed to withdraw 3 services from the PFI contract and saved 50% on the costs.

4) And when profits drive service provision, it’s no surprise that staff and quality can suffer. Carillion is mired in controversy at the Gt Western Hospital in Swindon, where it provides, under a PFI contract, like at Barts, services like portering, catering and cleaning. There’s been such problems with the services that the Chief Exec of the Trust said in September 2014 : “ concerns about food hygiene and cleanliness have posed a potential risk to patients, visitors, and staff which is completely unacceptable”. The Chief Exec added : “ there remain serious concerns about Carillion’s ability to deliver services to the required standard”

Over the next 5 years, the cost of the Barts and Royal London PFI will increase by £14m a year – 11%

And in the next 5 years, Barts has to make cuts of £324m – 5% of its turnover.

It’s not do-able.

I believe our hospitals should be places where sick people, at their most vulnerable, can get good care and treatment. Where staff are valued, and where management can focus on the quality of patient care, not on achieving impossible financial targets.

PFIs are haemorrhaging money away from that patient care. They have turned our hospitals into investment and profit making opportunities.

That is the scandal of PFIs.

So What Can We Do?

– Tell people you know about the scandal of PFIs. Break the silence around PFI.

– Find out more – there’s plenty of information out there and good websites to be found on the back of our leaflet

– Sign our petition calling for an end to the PFI at Barts – there are paper copies at the back or you can sign on line on 38 degrees website

– Join our local campaign or the Barts pfi campaign – there are details on our leaflets.

NHS in Stitches

NHS in Stitches

NHS In Stitches is brought to you by an army of volunteers including some of Britain’s best comedic talents: Lucy Porter, Stewart Lee, Junior Simpson, Mark Steel, Wendy Wason, Nish Kumar, Francesca Martinez, Slim, Kerry Godliman, Pappy’s, Rufus Hound, and Ed Bennett. On the 28th March 2015 at the Hackney Empire in London, the all-star line up lent their (often quite loud, always hilarious) voices to our call to stand up for the nation’s proudest achievement and most treasured institution: Our NHS.

This is an awareness raising campaign. Please watch and share widely.

This 37 minute film is based on the 2 hour live event. It features a selection of the fantastic stand up sets, sketches, short films from the night. It also includes some back stage interviews with a few of the comedians.

Please note, we would mark this video with the YouTube rating of ‘Strong Language’:

Strong language: Contains some expletives and profanity; however such words are infrequent and not used in a sexual context. This level is appropriate even for content with expletives and profanity bleeped out. It is also appropriate for suggestive dialogue, sexual innuendo, discussion of adult themes, and the expression of strong views and opinions that viewers are likely to find offensive, disrespectful, or otherwise controversial.