Homerton Hospital under threat, warns MP Diane Abbott

Merger between Whipps Cross, Newham and Barts hospitals is on the cards and could sound the death knell for the small NHS trust

�Homerton Hospital could be “squeezed out of existence” by plans to merge hospitals in three neighbouring boroughs, unions and Hackney MP Diane Abbott warned this week.

It follows a decision by health chiefs to choose Barts instead of the Homerton as the favoured partner of Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals.

NHS London,the capital’s strategic health body, has decided that merging Newham and Whipps Cross with centrally located Barts hospital would put them in a stronger position to become an NHS foundation trust and benefit from more autonomy to improve care for patients.

But the move has angered Ms Abbott, shadow health minister and MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, who wants an urgent meeting with NHS London.

She said: “What is the point of creating a new organisation which has a huge hole the size of Hackney in the middle?

In 2006, Barts and London Trust embarked on a �1 billion Private Finance Initiative (PFI) building project, and repayments to contractors Capital Hospitals cost �5 million a month.

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A spokeswoman for Unison branch at Homerton Hospital said the union shared Ms Abbott’s concerns.

“The Homerton Hospital is a small trust. Surrounded by a merged organisation of the size proposed, it will be vulnerable,” she said.

An NHS London spokesperson said that Newham and Whipps Cross trust boards had been concerned that they would not get the same benefits by merging with Homerton.

“Combined, the merged trusts will be in a stronger position to become an NHS foundation trust and benefit patients,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Barts said it was wrong to suggest that the hospital needed a merger for financial reasons and that the Treasury, the Department of Health and local commissioners had signed off the PFI as affordable.