Now health trust insists that there are no plans to close St Mary's hospital
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 06 September 2011
Yesterday's story about a threat to the future of St Mary's in Paddington, London, provoked a furious reaction from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the hospital along with four others.
The trust's response changed over the weekend, between the time it was contacted by The Independent on Friday and publication of the story yesterday.
The story said the trust was considering a proposal to shut the hospital and sell off the site to developers to help defray its £100m deficit. It said architects had been asked to quote for turning the site into 3,000 flats.
On Friday, the trust confirmed the size of its deficit and the financial challenge it faced. It said it was "reviewing how healthcare could be provided in the future across its sites" and "will consider how to make the best use of our buildings".
The trust confirmed it had approached architects in December 2010 and that the trust's chief executive had started "a tender process to look at the development potential of our estate across all of our sites". The statement did not deny the closure of St Mary's was being considered.
On Monday, after the story had appeared, the trust's response changed dramatically. It issued a categorical denial that there were "any plans to close St Mary's".
In a letter to the paper today, Mark Davis, chief executive, says the review is looking at "patient pathways, not sites". But this contradicts Friday's statement that the review is considering "the best use of our buildings".
One of three sources for The Independent's story, said: "The proposal being openly canvassed is that Imperial will be centred on Hammersmith hospital, with an expanded clinical and research site, and St Mary's will close."
We stand by our story.
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