Campaigners hail success as Government commit to funding new Whipps Cross hospital
The Government is to proceed with the construction of a new hospital at Whipps Cross in Leytonstone following decades of campaigning by local residents and councillors.
Funding for the new hospital will be released as part of the Goverment’s manifesto pledge to build 40 new hospitals, Health Secretary Steve Barclay confirmed on Thursday.
Campaigners had long called for improvements to the estate’s “dilapidated” Victorian-era infrastructure, with more than 11,000 people signing the “Whipps Won’t Wait” petition. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Labour MP Stella Creasy were among those who supported the campaign.
In July 2021, serious flooding forced the hospital’s A&E to close and prevented hundreds of essential operations. Some of the hospital’s most vulnerable patients had to be evacuated from the hospital in pitch dark.
The new facility will serve around 400,000 people across Waltham Forest, Redbridge, and parts of Essex. Work on the hospital is expected to begin by the end of year.
Councillor Grace Williams, the leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “We will at last have a hospital that is fit for purpose for the 21st century and of which staff can rightly be proud.
“I know the affection local people have for Whipps Cross. Many residents will have been born, had babies of their own, and had relatives cared for at the hospital. We now have the opportunity build on the emotional attachment the community has for Whipps and create a legacy for future generations.
“We will hold the Government to account to make sure this happens without further delay and the money they’ve promised is used well to meet the needs of residents.”
She added: “I also can’t express my gratitude enough to the wonderful nurses, doctors, and NHS support staff who have worked so hard for so long in dilapidated buildings.”
Mr Duncan Smith said: “This funding will deliver a brand-new hospital that’s fit for the future for my constituents across Chingford and Woodford Green, and following a short delay, work for a new multi-storey car park is expected to begin in Autumn.”
The new hospital will contain 14 new operating theatres as well as a doubling of CT and MRI Scanners. It is hoped the facility will be able to provide an extra 31,000 MRI and CT scans per year to enable faster diagnoses.
The wider Whipps Cross site will also be transformed to provide up to 1,500 new homes following the opening of the hospital, half of which will be affordable housing.
Mr Barclay told the Commons on Thursday that the Government remained committed to its manifesto pledge to build 40 new hospitals in England by 2030, but confirmed there would be a change to which hospitals are included in the programme.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs several hospitals in west London, said the announcement did not match its understanding of what was happening and there was a need for a “full rebuild of St Mary’s Hospital” in Paddington as well as major refurbishment and expansion at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.
Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “If we waited until 2030 to start building works at St Mary’s, it would become impossible to continue to patch up our oldest facilities, many of which house key clinical services.
“As the provider of London’s busiest major trauma centre and host of the NHS’s largest biomedical research centre, that would be hugely damaging for the health and healthcare of hundreds of thousands of people.”