Save London Chest heart hospital from bulldozers, urges historian

London local historian Tom Ridge... fighting to save heart hospital [picture: Mike Brooke]

London local historian Tom Ridge... fighting to save heart hospital [picture: Mike Brooke] - Credit: Archant

A local historian has called for a Victorian hospital in London’s East End which leads Britain in 21st century heart treatment to be listed to save it from developers.

London Chest Hospital at Bethnal Green

London Chest Hospital at Bethnal Green - Credit: Barts NHS Trust

The London Chest Hospital at Bethnal Green could go on the market when its unique cardiac services are switched to Bart’s in the City next year.

The call comes as the London Chest Hospital at Bethnal Green holds a family afternoon of activities on September 6 as a farewell gesture before all its cardiac surgery is switched to Bart’s Hospital in the City.

Public consultations over the future of the four-acre triangle site near Victoria Park are under way, which has led Tom Ridge to launch his campaign after claiming it has already been marked for housing by Tower Hamlets planners.

“That’s probably why my requests for local listing were ignored,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“The battle to save the hospital was tragically lost in the 1990s when the Health Minister, Virginia Bottomley, signed its death warrant.

“Yet the hospital still became a renowned ‘centre of excellence’ for cardiac treatment in 2006.”

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It has been “deliberately run down” so it can be closed and the site sold “to help pay for the massive Private Finance debts” at the nearby Royal London, the retired East End teacher claims.

The hospital was opened in 1855 by City businessmen to treat tuberculosis after the freehold was acquired from the Crown “on condition the land should always be used for treating chest diseases,” conservationists point out.

“Every brick was paid for by charitable donations,” Mr Ridge added. “It is a distinctive and much-loved Victorian building—and it was ours.”

Barts NHS trust does plan to sell the site, it has confirmed, although it has not been given the green light yet and is having to go through public consultations first.

The London Chest has a nationwide reputation. Heart attack sufferers who are taken there within 24 hours are less likely to go on to have a full cardiac arrest, a study of 702 patients earlier this year found.

Meanwhile, past staff and members of the public have been invited to family activities from 2pm in the hospital grounds on the Saturday after next, September 6, for a last chance to look round and meet current staff before they start being shipped off in the New Year. All tickets have sold out.