Letter: Hospital excellence Britain cannot afford to lose

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Sir: Like many other grateful patients, I now dread the pain of reading Sir Bernard Tomlinson's report on possible closures to distinguished London hospitals. My particular concern is St Thomas's - an even more 'valuable' site than County Hall - although it could be any one of the other threatened hospitals.

St Thomas's is now home to a small group of highly specialised hospitals, as well as serving the needs of a difficult and deprived part of London. The expertise in nursing, teaching and training complements the wonderful care given to sick and suffering people. This has gone on for 800 years - long before market forces were dictating who could or should offer medical care to sick people.

I was a patient for more than seven years and was helped to learn how to lead a full, non-dependent life after a rare illness led to me losing my ability to work. The time taken to solve my problem defied routine costings; the accumulated experience of various departments ensured that a solution was found to my mobility and pain problems; I was able to resume productive work in London's schools. The story can be retold thousands of times, and yet we are poor statistics for the Government and, dare I say it, hospital managers.

London needs its centres of medical excellence, where teaching can sit easily with good practice. Costly, yes; valued and valuable, beyond price. Government policies are allegedly removing the country's manufacturing base; is the removal of medical excellence from the centre of the nation's capital going to be the next sacrifice to a threadbare philosophy?

Yours faithfully,


London, SW2

7 October