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Whipps Cross Hospital being “compromised” for 17 days after July’s flood is proof its rebuild must be fast-tracked, local leaders claim.
On Thursday October 7, council leaders and MPs launched “Whipps Won’t Wait”, calling for the Government to prioritise the hospital over others awaiting funding.
Last year, the Prime Minister committed £3.7billion for 40 hospitals by 2030 but exactly how much funding Whipps Cross will get – and when – is still in negotiation.
During flooding on July 25, the Leytonstone hospital suffered “serious damage” and lost power, forcing staff to evacuate 100 patients and send ambulances elsewhere.
Whipps Cross deputy chief executive Claire Burden told leaders at the launch event: “It was the speed that it happened at that surprised us the most.
“Within half an hour it went from a fully operational site into a highly compromised site, with a hundred patients that needed to be evacuated.
“Imagine being post surgery and being lifted outside, then taken down the stairs on a canvas sheet.”
The Government expects to finish work on Whipps Cross and a further five hospitals around the country by 2025.
The campaign to ensure Whipps is the first of this group to receive funding has attracted support across political lines, including Labour MPs Wes Streeting, John Cryer and Stella Creasy and Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith.
Chingford and Woodford Green MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith claimed he had spent 21 years campaigning for a new hospital.
He said: “I think it was urgent in 1992, it’s as urgent as it’s possible to be right now. Each government that comes in hasn’t done it, whether Labour or Conservative.
“I finally managed to get Boris to listen to me in 2019, they sent somebody up here and said ‘OK, what we’re going to do is build a new hospital’.”
However, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said: “Iain isn’t able to say this but the problem is that Boris Johnson often leaves a gap between rhetoric and reality.
“People have known for years that Whipps isn’t up to scratch, the floods just revealed how urgent this is.
“During the floods it was like stepping into a sewer. People, residents and staff, deserve a lot better.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said the phasing of the 40 hospital schemes is “based on a current assessment of readiness to progress”.
Declining to comment on the status of the Whipps Cross scheme, they said the assessment is “subject to ongoing review” and timescales “may change”.
They added: “We are working closely with all NHS Trusts within the programme to plan how and when new hospitals will be built across the decade.”
A petition for Whipps Cross to be the first hospital to receive funding can be signed here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/whippswontwait