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'Secret' NHS estates plan outlining future of Hackney hospitals needs to be made public, say health campaigners

PUBLISHED: 13:04 05 July 2018

Homerton Hospital, pictured in 2016 during the junior doctors' strike. Health campaigners now fear an NHS estates strategy could put the entire site at risk. Picture: Stefan Rousseau

Homerton Hospital, pictured in 2016 during the junior doctors' strike. Health campaigners now fear an NHS estates strategy could put the entire site at risk. Picture: Stefan Rousseau

PA Archive/PA Images

Fears are growing that valuable NHS buildings in Hackney will be sold off to developers with profits used to bail out other health trusts.

A draft estates strategy plan for north east London has been produced by the City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It includes plans for both Homerton and St Leonard’s hospital sites, but has remained under wraps despite repeated requests from campaigners for it to be published.

In May Jane Milligan, of the North East London Commissioning Alliance, made up of seven CCGs, told a campaigner the plans were in draft and would be circulated once NHS England had seen them.

But campaigners say the public needs to be involved in any NHS plans from the start to ensure a fair process.

Jon Williams, director of Healthwatch Hackney, said: “It’s important the NHS uses its estate effectively but it is equally vital local leaders talk to the public about this as soon as possible.

“I would urge our partners to share the plans and encourage public debate on them.”

Radical changes to hospitals across north east London were first mooted in north east London’s 2017 NHS estates infrastructure delivery plan.

Patient groups are concerned the plans will mean sites in Hackney are sold, with services outsourced, as a way of helping cash-strapped trusts elsewhere, such as Bart’s, which has a large private finance initiative (PFI) debt.

The new East London Health and Care Partnership wants the estates strategy to release £500million in capital funding to modernise health facilities across north east London.

But the partnership also needs to generate ongoing savings of £10-20million a year by disposing of sites and delivering more care from council buildings like children’s centres.

Henry Black, finance officer at the East London Health and Care Partnership, said the health in Hackney scrutiny commission would be reviewing the plans at its September meeting.

He added: “The North East London (NEL) Estates Strategy is not a set, final plan; it is a consolidation of existing local work on the particular estates challenges that each borough faces, and the potential options for improving health and care outcomes.

“It begins to set the context for a wider discussion with stakeholders and residents about whether we have the right resources in the right places to support local people.”

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