Letter: Invitation to a hospital

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The Independent Online
Sir: There is an article to be written about class differences in uptake of welfare services but Colin Welch's ill-informed attack on the National Health Service ('Now the bourgeoisie bang their spoons', 31 May) was not it.

I recognise that part of Mr Welch's brief is to infuriate groups of your readers in rotation: before it is the turn of those of us working in the NHS again, could I invite him to come and spend a day with us in this busy acute teaching hospital?

We would offer free access to all areas, clinical and administrative. He could talk to some of the 75 per cent of our patients who are admitted as emergencies and many of whom are elderly, frail and live alone. He could spend time with the staff who struggle to provide high standards of care, often in ageing and inadequate facilities. We could talk about the ways in which we are trying to achieve pounds 2m of savings this year, without treating any fewer patients any less well.

It would be foolish to suggest that there is no need for the NHS to question its practices or improve its effectiveness: I suspect, however, that after a day at the Whittington, Mr Welch might write less cavalierly about patients 'pillaging a shambles' next time.

Yours faithfully,

HELENE HAYMAN

Chairman

Whittington Hospital Trust

London, N19

31 May

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