Details of carve-up at Whittington hospital site revealed
Facilities for private patients could be built on NHS land as part of property overhaul
16 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot
A CARVE-up of the Whittington Hospital estate could see “private patient facilities” and housing built on the main NHS hospital site, documents show.
The Highgate NHS Trust’s estate strategy, agreed in February last year, said there was “significant potential to generate efficiencies and create investment opportunities” at the main hospital site in Highgate. A 70-room block of nursing accommodation, 12 family flats, offices, the listed Jenner Building and a recently-built education centre – all in the northern reaches of the Whittington site – could be sold off and “re-provided” elsewhere, the papers said.
Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition has called a public meeting over the trust’s decision to appoint Ryhurst – a subsidiary of the lead Grenfell contractor, Rydon – to help oversee and put up capital for the project. The meeting is on January 11 at Islington town hall. DWHC chairwoman Shirley Franklin said: “Because of appalling underfunding by the NHS, hospitals have to finance their own improvements – by selling off their land. We are opposed to this and we have invited chief executive Siobhan Harrington to explain the position of the board, and we intend to ask a representative of Ryhurst to address us.”
The original 52-page report proposes building a new “healthcare village” in the northern part of the main hospital site, with space for private housing, a care home and “private patient facilities”. It says that the Highgate NHS trust has a duty to modernise health facilities but that there is “no real growth in funding”. As it needs to find its own cash, a private partner could provide capital for the proposed developments, the paper says.
The strategy reveals that £23million is needed to renovate existing buildings on the main hospital site and community clinics dotted around north London. More than £40million is required for proposed projects the trust would like to see completed, including renovating the A&E unit and setting up a new maternity unit. Clinical space could be more efficiently used by introducing “barn theatres” – huge open-plan theatres where surgeons can share facilities – and “repeatable rooms”, where patients share large bed bays.
The 2016 document says the net book value of the hospital site buildings is £99.9m – plus £31.1m for the land – while its 39 community clinics and buildings are worth £21m, plus £8.5m for the freehold. The main entrance building and some connecting theatres, rebuilt in 2005, are tied up in a private finance initiative contract that ends in 2034.
The Whittington Hospital said: “We know that the trust faces challenges. Our buildings are old, some of them are not fit for purpose and others are inefficient, and do not help our staff to develop the services they want to provide to our patients. “Our population is growing and we need to develop a vision for our estate that provides care environments that are attractive for patients and staff, affordable and environmentally friendly.”