Patients living with HIV are set to lose their vital specialist services if the controversial closure of Mildmay Hospital in Shoreditch goes ahead.
The planned closure, blamed on NHS funding pressures, would close the doors on London’s only AIDS/HIV hospital, made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales when she visited in the 1980s and took the hand of a patient.
The cost – around £5m a year – represents a tiny slice of the NHS budget, and the cost of treating HIV patients in other parts of the NHS would be more expensive. Doctors, patients, MPs, and campaigners are calling on the Government to grant Mildmay enough funding for another year, while new sources of income can be found.
Prince Harry, continuing his mother’s passion, opened Mildmay’s brand new building in 2015 and it is still the only specialist hospital in Europe providing neurological rehabilitation for people with HIV.
Despite huge medical advances in the treatment of AIDS/HIV since the disease first came to the public’s attention in the 1980s, there are still a significant number of HIV patients in urgent need of the services Mildmay provides. NHS doctors say that this treatment will be required for years to come.
Even though Mildmay actually costs less per patient than acute NHS hospitals and its highly-skilled doctors, nurses and therapists are experts in specialist HIV care, desperately sick patients are not being transferred from London’s NHS hospitals and are blocking beds that are urgently needed by other patients.
Because Mildmay is a charity providing NHS services and not an NHS Trust, when it runs out of money, it will simply have to close. MPs and Government Ministers are considering whether Mildmay’s unique services can be commissioned directly by NHS England like other specialist services already are, but time is running out.
“Frustrated doctors across London have already come out in support of Mildmay, saying that if the hospital closes, hundreds of NHS patients will suffer. Overburdened NHS services just do not have the capacity to manage yet another group of patients with a chronic long-term condition such as HIV,”
says Geoff Coleman, Mildmay’s CEO.
Local MP Rushanara Ali said
‘‘Ministers must step in to save Mildmay Mission Hospital. Mildmay provides a vital specialist service for patients living with HIV. It would take £5m a year to keep Mildmay open, which is a tiny slice of the NHS budget. It is an entirely false economy to close this hospital and force patients into other parts of the NHS without the same medical specialism.
We are calling on the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to intervene and save Mildmay before it is too late.”