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Weeklies take to road in bid to save hospital

Journalists from four Weekly titles in North London joined a protest march against proposed hospital cuts at the weekend.

Health bosses want to sell off almost half the site of Highgate’s Whittington Hospital with the loss of more than 100 beds, the closure of three wards and the loss of more than 300 jobs.

The Camden New Journal and its sister title the Islington Tribune brought out the ‘battle bus’ used in a similar campaign against hospital cuts three years ago.

Also taking part in the demonstration were the Hampstead and Highgate Express and Islington Gazette, which have also campaigned to save the hospital.

The Camden New Journal and Islington Tribune battlebus

The CNJ won the EDF Energy London and South East Media Awards camapaign of the year in 2010 for its bid to halt the closure of the Whittington’s Accident and Emergency and maternity unit.

Deputy editor Richard Osley said: “We vowed when we won assurances that the casualty department would not be shut down that we would keep a hawkeye watch on what happened next to the hospitals. Now, with cuts and sell-offs on the table, we are keeping our pledge to campaign once more and bring the battlebus back out of the garage.”

He added: “One of the things that have distressed the local community the most is the fact that these big changes to the hospital were hardly discussed in public.

“Our chief reporter Tom Foot uncovered the plans by the old fashioned graft of reading through board papers and turning up to meetings. Even the local MPs had not been told about the plans. It illustrates the importance of what local newspapers do.”

The Wire actor Dominic West, singers Annie Lennox and Alexandra Burke and actors Juliet Stephenson and Dexter Fletcher are among a raft of celebrities who are backing the New Journal’s campaign.

As reported on HTFP last month, the Ham & High and Islington Gazette have also launched a campaign entitled Hands off our Whittington.