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As of writing (May 2023), Mildmay Mission Hospital is no longer in danger of closure, and we are delighted to declare that our Save Mildmay Campaign has been an overwhelming success!

 

We can never know what is around the corner (as we have all learned over the past three years), but we are still here, and we are delighted to be making plans to develop our services and help even more people in the coming months and years.

 

So this is our final update as we formally close off our petition, and to do so, here's a message to you from Geoff, our Chief Executive, who worked so hard along with all our clinical colleagues to care for our patients throughout the pandemic, and to preserve the extraordinary, historic charity that is Mildmay:

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our fantastic supporters who, for the past three and a half years as part of the Change.org Campaign, signed petitions, wrote letters to MPs, encouraged us, have stood up and shouted loudly where necessary and flown the Mildmay flag.  Without your amazing support, we would not be where we are now.

Despite being at the point of imminent closure a couple of months earlier, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, Mildmay Hospital has been operating at full capacity. Like our NHS partners, our waiting list for services is longer than it has ever been.  In fact, in the autumn of 2022, we converted two disused bathrooms in our wards to increase the number of inpatient beds, and we are currently reviewing ways to increase our capacity even further.

As a specialist infectious disease hospital whose primary focus for over thirty years was HIV, we are now treating a wider range of patients discharged from NHS Acute Centres across London who are part of a rehabilitation pathway. We are also part of the detox pathway for homeless patients who have initially been treated at St Thomas' Hospital and are not yet ready to go into longer-term accommodation.

From January 2020, when we asked for your support to stop the hospital from closing to May 2023, when we realised that we had arrived (that is, we are relatively safe and able to make plans for the future), it has been a rollercoaster of a journey.  So this will be my final message to all of you as part of this campaign; thank you so much - you did it!"

Geoff Coleman

Chief Executive Officer

May 2023

If you would like to continue to hear about developments at Mildmay, we would be delighted if you would subscribe to our mailing list.

 

We send out occasional updates when we post news on our blog, and it’s the best way to keep up to date with what’s happening.

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The #SaveMildmay Campaign

Our campaign to save Mildmay Mission Hospital from closure

In late 2019, the historic Mildmay Hospital was facing closure. We fought hard to stay open, and the public got behind our #SaveMildmay campaign to lobby Parliament and the Secretary of State for Health.

Now, in May 2023, we have formally closed our campaign and declared victory!

 

We now look forward to many more years of delivering healthcare to those in greatest need.

You did it!

In December 2021, we were informed by the London NHS Commissioners (the five ICS’s and the Healthy London Partnership) that our contract to provide medical step-down care for homeless patients across the capital has been extended until JUNE 2023.

The journey has been challenging but with a huge amount of help from our partners such as Pathway, the Royal London Hospital, the East London Foundation Trust and many others, we have together made it a success. A big thank you from all of our staff to those commissioners who have placed their confidence in Mildmay.

 

A special thanks to our wonderful MP, Rushanara Ali, for her unceasing work to help protect Mildmay from closure and to ensure our future, and to the Health Ministers who listened.

We are continuing to work with all our stakeholders to find a permanent solution for our HIV care and our other services, beyond 2023.

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The campaign

Due to NHS funding pressures, the doors might close at Mildmay - London’s only HIV hospital, made famous by Diana, Princess of Wales when she visited regularly in the 1980s and 90s.

Prince Harry, continuing his mother's passion, opened Mildmay’s new hospital in 2015 and it remains the only specialist hospital in Europe providing neurological rehabilitation for people with HIV.

Despite medical advances in the treatment of HIV and AIDS 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 and they want to keep referring patients to us.

Patients living with HIV might lose their vital specialist services if the controversial closure of Mildmay Mission Hospital goes ahead

Media coverage of the #SaveMildmay Campaign, both in print, TV and online, has been incredibly helpful helping us share our story.

The Campaign was picked up by Reuters, which meant that #SaveMildmay went global, with our story being reported as far away as Canada and Taiwan.

Our petition

Since February 2020, we have been overwhelmed by the wholehearted support of the public for our campaign to keep Mildmay open.

Our petition quickly gained traction and was signed by over 78,500 people!
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petition

We were set to deliver our petition to Downing Street on March 25 2020, but circumstances changed as the UK rapidly succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been granted several temporary contract extensions since then but are campaigning for a permanent solution that secures Mildmay's survival.

"I do not live in the London area,

but I want to continue support for Mildmay Hospital.

I am a retired GP. I am aware of the problems of people who

are in hospital, but unable to live independently and for whom it is difficult to find suitable accommodation. Of course, Mildmay is much more than that; it has done pioneering work for HIV patients nearing the end of their lives as well as rehabilitation for many other conditions.

 

This is an era of centralisation of hospitals, and often there is good reason for that, but smaller hospitals, albeit with links to big hospitals, are needed as well. Not least, patients like the smaller units. Hospices are a good example."

~ Anonymous

Even though treating patients at Mildmay actually costs less than NHS hospitals, and its highly skilled doctors, nurses and therapists are experts in specialist HIV care, sick patients are not being transferred from London’s NHS hospitals and are potentially blocking beds that are urgently needed by other patients.

The cost of keeping Mildmay open, around £5m a year, is a tiny fraction of the overall NHS budget, and the cost of treating HIV patients in other parts of the NHS are more expensive.

In 2020, doctors, patients, MPs and campaigners called on the Government to grant Mildmay enough funding for another year, while new sources of income could be found.

A (temporary) reprieve

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mildmay has been granted a temporary contract extension until the end of March 2022 and continues to play its part in helping to ease the burden on NHS hospitals.

Mildmay Hospital is now admitting both HIV and step-down homeless patients (on our Homeless Pathway, piloted in 2020).

This has given us the opportunity to treat people who are homeless or rough-sleeping as well as continuing to care for HIV patients as we have been doing for over 30 years.

We are still lobbying MPs and government ministers to persuade them that Mildmay’s unique services should be commissioned directly by NHS England like other specialist services already are, but time is running out.

Mildmay is a charity providing NHS services and not an NHS Trust. When we run out of money, we will simply have to close Mildmay Hospital.

  • Mildmay Institutions and Missions
    "Of institutions for the training of women in Christian work and philanthropy, there is none more widely known than that of Mildmay. It has now two hundred and twenty workers engaged in its various departments, including deaconesses, nurse, probationers, and students in training for foreign work. It was one of the earliest institutions in this country, if not the first, to revive in modern times the ancient office of deaconess. This had been done by Pastor and Madame Fliedner at Kaiserswerth, on the Rhine, the Alma Mater of Florence Nightingale, and it was on a visit to Kaiserswerth that the Rev. William Pennefather and his wife Catherine received inspiration for founding the Mildmay Mission. This mission was started in 1860, when Mr. Pennefather was vicar of Christ Church, Barnet. Both he and his wife were deeply interested in foreign missions, and their first venture was a missionary training home for women. This formed the nucleus of Mildmay. The scheme was greatly developed when Mr. Pennefather removed to St. Jude's, Mildmay Park, in 1864. The training of women for parochial work was now begun. The name of deaconess was adopted for these workers, and in time the training home was changed to Deaconess House. The period of the foundation of the mission was one of great awakening on the part of educated women to the Christian Church's need for their service in the more public spheres of philanthropy. From her invalid's room, the "heroine of the Crimea" was calling to the leisured women of her day to be up and doing. One of Florence Nightingale's earliest essays was a plea for the revival of the office of deaconess. Mr. and Mrs. Pennefather chose this name for their workers (Deaconesses) after prayerful consideration. It was novel, but it was apostolic. The devotion of the founders to the mission is known throughout Christendom. Mr. Pennefather made Mildmay the centre for Evangelical Church conferences, which have now been held annually for fifty-one years; and Mrs. Pennefather organised the women's work and started clubs and meetings for poor people. Both have passed to their rest, and memorials to their noble work exist in recent additions to the institution. The headquarters of the mission are at Mildmay Park. The buildings which compose the Mildmay compound are grouped around a central garden. Captain F. L. Tottenham, the superintendent of the mission, has a house in the compound, and is assisted by Mrs. Tottenham as the directress of women's work. The Conference Hall is a handsome building, erected in 1869; and the conferences held there each June attract Christian workers from all parts of the kingdom and from abroad. Throughout the year it is used for services, meetings, and Bible classes connected with the mission. Below the hall are rooms which serve as storehouses for the garments sent to Mildmay for distribution amongst the poor. In one room a weekly sewing class is held for poor widows. They have hot coffee and buns, cheerful and kind people to talk to them, and receive sixpence for their work. The garments are well made and cut out, and the mission is glad to receive orders."
  • Mildmay Institutions And Missions, continued...
    "Lectures in physiology, nursing, health, tropical diseases, surgical work, and a short course of nursing at the Mildmay Medical Mission Hospital, keeping of accounts, sol-fa singing, cooking, and laundry. The directress, Mrs. Tottenham, thus describes the necessary qualification for candidates for deaconess work. " We first need as workers those who are truly converted to God, and really desirous of winning others to Him. There must also be some natural fitness in gifts, temperament, and health." The probation and student houses, situated in the compound, first receive the candidates, who remain for one month on probation. If they like the work and are considered suitable for it, they remain for a period not exceeding two years. The time varies according to the previous knowledge which the students possess. Part of their time is spent in theological study, and they attend classes for cutting out, needlework, cooking, and other practical subjects. They also engage in parochial work under experienced workers. After leaving the student house for the central deaconess house, candidates work, as a rule, in the mission for two or three years longer before they are regarded as qualified to be Mildmay deaconesses. The admission to full membership is signalised by a simple dedication service, conducted by the chaplain of the institution, who is at present (1911) the Rural Dean of Islington. The girls' hostel is provided for educated girls between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three who wish for experience in home mission work. The charge is twenty-five shillings weekly. The Nurses' Home has a pleasant frontage to Newington Green, and is the most historic portion of the settlement. There is a staff of fifty nurses attached to the house, who are sent out to private cases."
  • The life of a Deaconess
    "The Deaconess House adjoins the Conference Hall and has about forty deaconesses in residence. Miss Hankin is deaconess-in-charge. The house is bright and pleasant, with a large room, No. 6, for devotional services and various meetings, and a very spacious drawing room arranged with writing tables and lounges. Each deaconess has her own room or cubicle. The rules of the house are very simple. No vows are taken, but it is expected that love and devotion will keep the residents at their appointed tasks. Ladies are expected, if it is in their power, to pay £50 per year for board. Many who cannot do this are accepted according to their circumstances. Some receive a small allowance for personal expenses. The Mildmay deaconesses work under the clergy in fifteen London parishes. They are engaged in devotional exercises at home, and in house-to-house visitation in the very poorest districts. They pay between forty and fifty visits a week. Each deaconess, as a rule, has charge of a mothers' meeting in her district and gives the address herself. Girls' clubs, boys' clubs, work amongst children, and other good works are also carried on by the deaconesses. Besides parochial work carried on from the central house, some of the deaconesses are employed in the various institutions and homes belonging to the community. Others work further afield - in Malta and Tunbridge Wells; at the Prison Gate Mission, Dublin; the House of Refuge, Oxford; and the Deaconess House at Kingston, Jamaica. One Mildmay deaconess is in charge of the Diocesan Deaconess and Missionary Training House, Toronto, Canada: and another has charge of the Church Ladies' House, founded by the Bishop of Liverpool. The training of a Mildmay deaconess is in accordance with the principles of the Church of England. The curriculum embraces the following subjects: (1) The Old and New Testament, Christian doctrine, history and contents of the Prayer Book, outlines of early Church history and outlines of Christian evidence."
  • The Medical Work of the Mission
    "The Mildmay Mission Hospital, in Austin Street, Bethnal Green, is the centre of a most useful and beneficent work amongst the very poor of East London. There are fifty beds devoted to the needs of destitute patients. A medical mission is held at the hospital on Tuesday and Friday, beginning with a short mission service. There is an average attendance of 150. On other days some 80 or 100 out-patients come for dressings. Patients are also visited in their own homes. "Home," the dearest word in our mother tongue, means a scene of heartbreak to thousands of London's poor. One example may be quoted to show how bravely many bear the misfortunes of poverty. The attention of one of the deaconesses was called to a family who had lately removed to her district. The man and his wife were steady Christian people. They had seven children. The eldest boy (away from home on a training ship) sent them ten shillings per month, the second, earning eight shillings per week, gave his mother five or six shillings per week, keeping a little for clothes. The rent was seven shillings a week, and, through the father being out of work, had fallen into arrears. When the deaconess called she found the family in great distress, without food or fire. "The children never worry me for food, miss, if I haven't any for them," said the mother, " but just say their prayers as usual when they go to bed." She was very grateful for a little help given. A few days later a gift of butter came to Mildmay from the Country House Mission, and the deaconess took a quarter of a pound to this poor family as a special treat. A Pathetic Story It was getting late and dark when she reached the house. Her knock was soon answered, and she stepped inside, to find mother and children quietly gathered together in the little sitting-room without a glimmer of light. A penny in the gas-meter soon remedied that, and the mother said, "My boy was just praying for God to send someone, and when he heard the knock he said, ' There's someone come, mother.'" The deaconess found them without food or fire, but wonderfully patient. She sent one of the boys for bread, and with the nice country butter the family had a nourishing meal.... ...An annual sum of £25,000 is required to support the various agencies connected with Mildmay, and for this amount the mission relies chiefly on voluntary help. Some of the very poor set a wonderful example as donors to its charities. A dear old woman of sixty-seven, who lived in a top attic, earning a precarious living by making patterned rugs and mats out of bits of cloth, sends one of her rugs every year to the Mildmay sale. She only earned four and sixpence a week, and out of that paid two and sixpence for rent, yet she could afford to be generous!"
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