Can we believe STP nightmare scenario for London’s NHS: £4.5 billion cost of ‘doing nothing’?


CAMPAIGNERS were today protesting at plans to cut £4.5 billion from the NHS in London by 2020 that they fear will result in hospital closures.

Draft “sustainability and transformation plans” have been drawn up for five parts of the capital, with officials warning that “doing nothing” will see hospitals and GP commissioners falling massively into debt due to the increasing cost of caring for an ageing population while battling against NHS staff shortages.

As the Standard revealed in May, the axing of 500 hospital beds is proposed in North-West London to help prevent a £1,299m overspend, heightening longstanding fears for the future of Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals.

In South-East London, the “do nothing” option is forecast to result in a £1,015m overspend. Officials have proposed plans to “reduce pressure on and simplify A&E”.

In North-East London a £500m overspend is predicted. No closures are proposed but health bosses want to reduce the number of hospital attendances.

In South-West London the gap would be £900m – amid concern that none of the area’s hospitals meet new standards for emergency care. Particular problems are reported at St Helier and St George’s hospitals. The funding gap in North-Central London is predicted to hit £876m.

Campaigners, including those fearing for the future of hospitals outside London, were marching from Trafalgar Square to the Department of Health from 12.30pm. It was the first united bid to challenge ministers about the implications of the plans, which were ordered by the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

Dr Louise Irvine, a GP who was involved in the campaign to save Lewisham hospital, said: “We don’t think their ideas of how to save £1 billion [in South-East London] are credible. We see them as a hospital closure programme.

“They have not announced anything yet – they are being kept secret – but people are seeing they are almost all about reconfiguration, shutting down district general hospitals. They come up with this fantasy story about community care that is nothing more than blue sky thinking.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “The NHS locally is now working together on shared plans to improve mental health, cancer care and GP services for the communities they serve, with hospitals now working in partnership rather than competing against each. The best way forward is for local doctors, hospitals and councils to work together with their local communities.”

  • An edited version of this article appears in today’s Evening Standard.

Bike ride home helps me cope with seeing death on daily basis, says advanced paramedic TV star




LAS advanced paramedic Dan Davis. Photo by Glenn Dearing

An advanced paramedic dealing with some of the most critically ill patients in London today told how he had to cope with death on virtually every shift.

Dan Davis, 42, told how his specialist role meant his day was spent attempting to save people in cardiac arrest, or attending shootings, stabbings and suicide attempts.

He said he survived the extraordinary challenges of his job – seen by millions of viewers last night on a BBC1 documentary on the London Ambulance Service – by cycling home to unwind.

“The average paramedic attends three to six cardiac arrests a year,” he said. “In two years I have attended in excess of 260. I can do two to three cardiac arrests per shift.

“By the very nature of what I do, there is every chance that I’m going to pronounce someone dead once every shift. It has now become the norm for me.

“You build up a level of resilience that you don’t become too attached to that individual because the next call is inevitably going to be just as critical as the one I have just attended.”

Mr Davis, a former PE teacher and semi-professional rugby player, joined LAS 12 years ago. Two years ago he was among the first dozen of its paramedics to receive training to become advanced paramedics. He also does shifts with London’s Air Ambulance.

He told the Standard: “Since becoming an advanced paramedic, you only attend calls that require critical care. It’s a different mindset.

“I probably do slightly fewer jobs during the day, but the jobs I’m doing are far more involved. I have become accustomed to it [pronouncing patients dead]. It’s become the norm.

“People say: do you get used to it? I don’t think you should ever get used to that. I have made the choice to become an advanced paramedic. I have got a close group of friends. Most of them are doctors or paramedics and they understand.

“Sometimes you have got to decondition yourself from the day. Sometime you have had a particularly hard day or hard case. Being able to talk about it with someone else is enough. It’s not like an office job. I’m not taking paperwork home with me. My cycle home is quite cathartic. It’s a chance to unwind at the end of a shift.”


Dan Davis. Photo by Glenn Dearing

The father of two boys said the cases that stuck in his mind were those involving children. He hoped the three-part documentary would show viewers that LAS staff continued to “bust a gut” to provide good care despite a record number of 999 calls and the blow to morale of the service having been placed in special measures by the NHS watchdog last November.

“Hopefully the programme will reflect what is an NHS-wide issue, and that the individual clinicians are still doing the best they possibly can,” he said. “A picture paints 1,000 words. People can see it for themselves on TV and hopefully have a better understanding.”

Pre-inquest review into death of Charing Cross nurse Amin Abdullah

A nurse who burned himself to death near Kensington Palace had plummeted into depression because of the way a hospital trust handled a disciplinary investigation into his conduct, it was claimed in court.

Amin Abdullah, 41, set himself on fire yards from the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge early on February 9 after being sacked from Charing Cross hospital.


A pre-inquest hearing at Westminster coroner’s court heard allegations from his family’s barrister that the three months he spent under investigation caused the mental breakdown that led him to take his own life.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Charing Cross, opened an investigation into Mr Abdullah’s conduct on September 15 last year after he became embroiled in a dispute involving a patient and another nurse.

The investigation concluded on October 22 but he had to wait a further six weeks for a disciplinary hearing. His dismissal for gross misconduct was confirmed on December 21.

Police were called around midnight on February 9 when Mr Abdullah failed to return to St Charles hospital, Ladbroke Grove, where he was being treated for depression. Officers later found him ablaze in a locked part of the palace grounds.

Caroline Cross, representing Mr Abdullah’s partner Terry Skitmore, told the court: “There is a clear causal link between the trust’s action and his depression and suicide. They caused his depression, they prolonged his depression, they exacerbated his depression.

“He had no previous mental health issues, but once the procedure started he was treated for depression in November. They exacerbated his depression by failing to comply with their own internal guidelines.”

She added: “The trust were aware at the time that this [investigation] was having a significant impact on his mental health.”

The court was told that Mr Abdullah and his support worker from the Royal College of Nursing had written to the trust to outline the effect of the investigation on his health.

Mr Abdullah wrote: “My mental stress has been so great worrying what is happening that I have had to have regular counselling by my RCN counsellor. My home life and family members are affected by my stress. I have also had to see my GP.”

His RCN representative told the trust: “I’m disappointed to hear that Mr Abdullah has not been communicated with, or provided with reasonable updates. The impact of this has been detrimental to his health.”

Neil McLaughlin, representing Imperial, said Mr Abdullah accepted he had acted incorrectly but was appealing against dismissal, believing it was too severe a sanction.

Coroner Dr Shirley Radclife said: “Clearly the process was taking its toll on his mental health. We will look at whether there was undue delay that may have exacerbated his mental distress, but not at the decision-making or whether it was a reasonable process to reach a conclusion of dismissal.”

The coroner asked for a report to be prepared for the full hearing by Lesley Powls, the then divisional head of nursing at Imperal, outlining the disciplinary process.

The court will also hear details of an internal review by the Met police’s directorate of professional standards into the actions of officers “on the evening that the events took place”.

An edited version of this report appeared in the Evening Standard on September 23.

£100k boat sculpture welcomes patients to new £160m cancer centre at Guy’s hospital


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The new Cancer Centre at Guy's Hospital

The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital. Pics by Alex Lentati for the Evening Standard

Guy’s Hospital today opened a £160 million cancer centre as it outlined an ambition to become one of the best cancer hospitals in the world.

The 14-storey tower block has being built almost “free” to the NHS after the private hospital firm HCA was given four floors in return for rent that covers the “mortgage” for the entire building.

The cancer centre contains £1.7 million of public art – including a £100,000 bronze sculpture at its entrance inspired by a Roman boat buried under the hospital. This is to symbolise a patient’s “journey” while undergoing treatment. Themoney for the art was donated by the Guy’s and St Thomas’s charity and did not come from NHS funds.


Daniel Silver, the Hackney-based artist who created the landmark piece, called Boat, (above) said: “There have been investigations and inquiries into art, They found out that art does help people to get healthy.

“I hope patients work out this relationship with where we are, close to the Thames, and the relationship with time. I hope it allows people to daydream and floats into their memory.”

It may be the most expensive piece of public art at a London hospital since a £70,000 “giant pebble” was unveiled to mark the 2005 opening of the new tower building at UCLH.


The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital … Neil Burley Radiotherapist with an X-ray machine that is a 1000x more powerful than a normal one …

About £10 million has been spent on six Linac radiotherapy machines that deliver the most targeted treatment available on the NHS – to within 1mm. This prevents healthy tissue being damaged, means fewer bursts of radiation are required and is especially useful in treating brain tumours. Four of the machines are at the Guy’s site. The two others will be installed at a satellite unit at Queen Mary’s hospital, Sidcup.

Guy’s aims to position itself alongside the Royal Marsden and The Christie, in Manchester, both specialist cancer hospitals, as being world-class.


The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital … Dr Maj Kazmi Director of Cancer Services

Dr Majid Kazmi, clinical director of cancer services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, said: “This has been a 10-year project to make Guy’s a global centre of excellence for cancer medicine. We are already attracting some of the best brains nationally and internationally to come and work here.

“We recognise the incidence of cancer is going to increase. Cardiovascular diseases are not as prevalent as they used to be, because people are stopping smoking and because of statins. Cancer is primarily a disease of the elderly.

“When we did an analysis, we realised that about a third of all the activity going through Guy’s and St Thomas’ was cancer-related. We thought: we have got to get good at this.”

Patients arrive at an airport-style reception and scan a barcode on their appointment letter before being summoned upstairs by a “departure board” for treatment.

One floor of the centre is an innovation hub of 70 scientists from King’s College London. Patients will be asked to donate samples to boost research.

The Dimbleby Cancer Care centre, run by a charity set up by David and Jonathan Dimbleby in memory of their father Richard, provides support services on the ground floor.

The radiotherapy machines are above ground – the first time this has been done in Europe. Normally their weight means they have to be put in the basement.

The new Cancer Centre at Guy's Hospital ... Alistair Gourlay Director

The new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital … project director Alastair Gourlay

Alastair Gourlay, trust project director, said: “The rent we get from HCA is going to pay off the loan. We have got half a free hospital. When we first had the idea [about funding], I was a little bit nervous. There is a place for private sector and public sector working together.”

The HCA facilities, to be known as London Bridge Hospital at Guy’s, will open in spring 2017.

John Reay, chief executive at London Bridge Hospital, said: “We are proud to be part of this exciting new development in which London Bridge Hospital at Guy’s will offer world-class facilities for those with signs and symptoms of cancer.”

The press release from Guy’s and St Thomas’s is here:

Junior doctor: ‘New rota will make me so tired. I fear making mistakes that will hurt a child’


A junior doctor today admitted she was “terrified” that new shift patterns would leave her so tired that she makes an error that harms a child.

The shock admission from the medic – who works in one of London’s busiest paediatric units – comes as the High Court today began hearing a bid to declare the new junior doctor contracts illegal.

A two-day hearing brought by the Justice for Health group is seeking to prevent Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt from imposing the new conditions next month under his plans for a “seven-day NHS”.

The junior doctor, who asked not to be identified, told the Standard: “I’m scared that working this rota will make me unwell and miserable. I’m terrified that because of this shift pattern I could be so tired at work that I make a mistake that harms a child.”


Her hospital has just issued a new 10-week rota (above). Compared to the same period last year, junior doctors are being required to work more days without a break. One stretch involves three 12.5-hour days followed by three night shifts. Another is of 85 hours over nine consecutive days.

Bosses admitted that staff shortages and the difficulty of finding locum doctors had resulted in an increased demand on the hospital’s junior medics. Their duties include caring for seriously ill newborn babies, infants in intensive care and sick children arriving at A&E.

“No doctor can make safe, rational decisions when they are that overtired, and I wouldn’t want my child looked after by someone who has been forced to work such draining shift patterns,” she said. “I have got no issue with tough [shifts]. I don’t mind tough. I do mind unsafe.”


It comes as the head of one of London’s biggest hospital trusts admitted the NHS was “killing” its doctors with 18-hour shifts.

Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of Imperial College Healthcare Trust, told Save our Hospitals campaigners (see video above) at the Imperial AGM: “The NHS is suffering today very badly. If you go back to 1948, it has gone through these periods when it’s always been cash-strapped. Today it’s really cash-strapped. Eighty per cent of trusts are now in deficit.

“The capacity just isn’t there at the moment. The finances are very, very strained. Our people work extremely hard. This belief we are ‘inefficient’ is a joke.

“Nobody likes to tell the truth… the problem is funding. These people [doctors] work 18 hours a day. They are unbelievably efficient. But we are killing them now. This is the problem.

An edited version of this article appears in the Evening Standard today and on its website:



Jeremy Hunt ‘acted unlawfully’ in seeking to impose new contracts on junior doctors, High Court is told


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Jeremy Hunt acted unlawfully in trying to impose new contracts on junior doctors, the High Court was told today.

A claim for judicial review brought by the Justice for Health group – set up by five London medics – heard claims that the Health Secretary acted beyond his powers.

Jenni Richards QC, for the claimants, said Mr Hunt behaved as the “key decision-maker” and his statements about new contracts were “unequivocal” and “mandatory in nature”. She said: “This is a course that has been set in stone.”

She said he had also acted irrationally and had failed to communicate a clear and transparent decision when announcing in Parliament on July 6 his “decision” to introduce the contracts from next month.

Lawyers for Mr Hunt are expected to argue that he had only recommended the new contracts.

Mr Justice Green said: “This is clearly a serious case. It raises issues of public importance.”

With the NHS facing the threat of the first of a series of five-day strikes by the British Medical Association next month, the judge said he would aim to hand down judgement at midday on Wednesday next week.

A series of shorter strikes earlier this year has seen thousands of patients have clinics cancelled and operations postponed.

The new contracts would require more junior doctors to work new shift patterns, including at weekends, as part of Mr Hunt’s plans for a “seven-day NHS”.

Ms Richards told the packed courtroom: “We submit that he [Mr Hunt] has purported to express a power to determine or decide the terms on which junior doctors will be employed. We say he lacks the power to act as a decision-maker on which terms NHS bodies will employ junior doctors.

“We accept that the Secretary of State has the power to give a recommendation or express an opinion. We say he has plainly sought to go further than that.

“We submit the Secretary of State acted unlawfully by failing to take and communicate a clear and transparent decision.

“What this case is not about is the merits or demerits of the contract itself.”

Lawyers for Mr Hunt, who was not in court, are expected to argue that the Justice for Health claim is “entirely without merit” and misrepresents his intentions.

They will say that Mr Hunt has never purported to force NHS trusts to use the new contract but merely considers that it should be adopted and planned to work with NHS employers despite the opposition of the BMA.


The case was brought after five junior doctors – Ben White, Marie-Estella McVeigh, Amar Mashru, Francesca Silman and Nadia Masood – raised £300,000 from crowdfunding to cover legal fees.

The hearing is due to conclude tomorrow afternoon.

*An edited version of this article appears in later editions of tonight’s Evening Standard.


Mayor Sadiq Khan seeks ‘Walking and Cycling Commissioner’ – £58,800 for a three-day week


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Sadiq Khan was today urged to make the new post of walking and cycling commissioner a full-time job.

Campaigners welcomed his wish to prioritise pedestrian safety but said the job – when combined with the contentious cycling portfolio – was too big for a three-day-a-week position.

The news story from today’s Evening Standard is here:

See below for the full job description:

The Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner: outline responsibilities and accountabilities

Job Title:                   The Mayor’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner

Max Salary:               Up to £98k (pro rata)

Responsible to:          The Deputy Mayor for Transport

Duration:                   Fixed Term Contract (to May 2020 with possible extension)

Hours:                        Part time – 3 days per week


Role Scope

The Mayor’s walking and cycling programme will bring together all the activities undertaken by Transport for London and key partners designed to promote and support healthy, active, non-polluting travel in London.   This post exists to provide strategic advice to the Mayor and TFL on the overall content and direction of the programme and strategic oversight of delivery of the programme. They would work collaboratively with a wide range of partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors and with London’s diverse communities to support delivery of the programme. The post holder will provide a high-profile “ambassadorial”, outreach and stakeholder management role for the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor for Transport and Transport for London on the Mayor’s walking and cycling programme. They would represent the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and TFL to stakeholders, the travelling public and the media on the programme.

Key Accountabilities


  • To act as an advocate for walking and cycling in London, raising the profile of walking and cycling as ways of travelling around the city and promoting their heath, environmental, social and economic benefits to all who live and work in and visit the capital.


  • Secure the necessary resources to achieve the Mayor’s manifesto commitments related to walking and cycling, monitor progress towards them and report to the Mayoral team as required, including through formal reporting processes.


  • Have oversight, under the policy direction of the Deputy Mayor for Transport, of the development of TfL walking and cycling policy and programmes (bringing together the key areas of interest across transport, urban planning and public health) and the progress of the delivery of walking and cycling programmes and their benefits across London.


  • Proactively engage with and build relationships and working partnerships at a high level with London’s local authorities, transport providers, community organisations, Public Health England and other public and private organisations that may already be able or have the opportunity to influence the safety and conditions for walking and cycling in London, or promote walking and cycling within the capital.


  • Develop and manage relationships and alliances across the GLA Group and with a wide range of external stakeholders with interests in relevant policies and standards, including national, regional and local government, delivery bodies, NGOs, and other key opinion formers to ensure effective representation and delivery of Mayoral priorities.


  • Represent London’s interests on walking and cycling at appropriate events, conferences, launches and openings and to the media to raise the profile of walking and cycling in London.


  • To identify, and lobby for, further sources of funding for the development and delivery of walking and cycling related activity and programmes within London, including helping to secure third party financial support for relevant elements of these programmes through sponsorship, support in kind or provision of staffing or other resources, and securing the provision of adequate resources within TfL.


  • Provide written and oral briefings, advice and reports for the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office, Chief Executive, Directors and others as required. Respond to information requests from the Assembly.


  • Promote and enable equality of opportunities, and promote the diverse needs and aspirations of London’s communities.


Key interfaces

The Mayor of London

The Deputy Mayor for Transport

The Mayor’s team of Directors and key staff within the Mayor’s Office

The TfL Commissioner

MD TfL Surface Transport

Director of Strategy and Planning, TfL Surface Transport

GLA Transport team

Public Health England and public health staff within TfL and the GLA

Chief Executives and senior elected members of the London Boroughs

Chief Executives/senior managers of relevant voluntary organisations and trade associations

Chief Executives/senior managers of London



  • A good understanding of the benefits of walking and cycling and their links to other policy agendas, including public health, the environment, social justice and the wider urban economy.


  • A good understanding of the key issues and challenges relating to increasing walking and cycling in London and the relationship between the two forms of travel.


  • A good understanding of the mix of policies and programmes needed to support delivery of an increase in walking and cycling, including infrastructure improvements, financial and other instruments and behaviour change programmes


  • A good understanding of the practical, political, financial and commercial realities of delivering projects and programmes that support an increase in walking and cycling on a crowded road network and in a politically complex and highly regulated environment.


  • A good understanding of and credibility with the key stakeholders involved in the walking and cycling agenda and ability to leverage relationships and interest from across a diverse range of sectors and audiences, including sectors and communities not currently engaged in the walking and cycling debate in London.




  • Exceptional influencing, communications, outreach and stakeholder management skills, with the ability to coalesce different constituencies around an agenda and to represent the Mayor and TfL’s vision compellingly in public. Ability to engender maximum trust and confidence of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor through the highest level of personal and professional integrity.


  • The ability to network and influence at the highest levels in the public, private and voluntary sectors, including the ability to engage the widest possible range of audiences and interests in the walking and cycling agenda, including from the transport, urban planning, environment, economics and public health sectors.


  • Strong strategic skills, with an ability to propose and evaluate strategic options and to lead the policy debate in the areas covered. Well-developed analytical and problem-solving skills and ability to devise creative solutions to complex problems and issues.


  • The ability to work in a politically complex and highly regulated operating environment.




  • Significant experience of operating in a complex political and regulatory environment together with consultation and negotiation skills in order to seek to change opinion and influence political and other stakeholder


  • Significant experience of working with a broad range of stakeholders in the public, private and voluntary sectors on development and/or delivery of policies and programmes relevant to the walking and cycling agenda.


  • Experience of public speaking and representing an organisation or issue to a wide range of audiences, including conferences, senior stakeholders and the print and broadcast media


  • Experience of generating third party financial or other support for project and programme delivery

Period pain drug offers hope in search for cure for Alzheimer’s disease


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A painkiller similar to iboprufen that is used to treat period pain has given hope of a breakthrough in reversing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers today revealed that memory problems and brain inflamation in mice were “completely reversed” by giving them mefenamic acid for a month. They now want to see the anti-inflammatory drug, which costs around £1.50 a week and is known in the UK as Ponstan, tested on humans in the hope of finding the first cure for Alzheimer’s.

Dr David Brough, who led the Manchester university team, said: “There is experimental evidence now to strongly suggest that inflammation in the brain makes Alzheimer’s disease worse.

“Our research shows for the first time that mefenamic acid, a simple Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug, can target an important inflammatory pathway called the NLRP3 inflammasome, which damages brain cells. Until now, no drug has been available to target this pathway, so we are very excited by this result.”

About Around 500,000 people in the UK have Alzheimer’s disease, which gets worse over time and destroys their ability to remember, think and make decisions.

Testing the usefulness of drugs already licensed for other conditions is a priority as it could “shortcut” the 15 years needed to develop a dementia disease from scratch.

Dr Doug Brown, director of research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “These promising lab results identify a class of existing drugs that have potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease by blocking a particular part of the immune response.

“However, these drugs are not without side effects and should not be taken for Alzheimer’s disease at this stage – studies in people are needed first.”

The research, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Alzheimer’s Society, is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Axed, on hold: concern after TfL pulls back on road safety schemes


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Cyclists have reacted angrily to a decision to scrap plans to improve safety at a junction on the A10 notorious for high collision rates.

Transport for London has ditched a series of improvements at the Stamford Hill/Clapton Common intersection in Hackney after a majority of respondents to a consultation feared they would increase traffic and congestion.

Highbury Corner proposed pedestrianisation

On hold: Proposed pedestrianisation of one side of Highbury Corner

TfL has also put on hold the part-pedestrianisation of Highbury Corner roundabout in neighbouring Islington after concerns were raised about increased delays to buses.

TfL said collision rates at Stamford Hill last year were the lowest for some time. But its report failed to take account of several serious collisions this year including the death of a pedestrian in a bus crash in March.

Jono Kenyon, co-ordinator of Hackney Cycling Campaign, said: “By cancelling all work TfL are effectively saying it is business as usual at a horrendous collision site.

“For TfL to state that safety has improved when we have continued to see several serious collisions including fatal ones whilst the consultation was open is very disappointing.”

Lawyer Kevin O’Sullivan, of Cycle Legal, who lives nearby, said: “The spate of accidents in the last few years have nearly always had as their victim a vulnerable road user- a cyclist or a pedestrian. This should clearly signpost to TfL that the junction is too dominated by big vehicles and not enough is there to protect the vulnerable.

“With the size of the road at Stamford Hill six lanes wide, if TfL can’t find space for segregated cycling there – as they have done successfully further down the road towards Seven Sisters – then they can’t find space for cycling anywhere.”

TfL said 55-65 per cent of the 730 respondents opposed various parts of its Stamford Hill plan, with 29-40 per cent in favour – though many felt the plans for safer cycling and walking did not go far enough.

There was greater support for changes at Highbury Corner, where the western side of the roundabout would be closed to link it to the roundabout’s central island.

Of the 2,823 responses, 71 per cent thought the changes would improve conditions for pedestrians, 67 per cent thought they would improve conditions for cyclists and 59 per cent thought they would improve conditions for Tube and Rail users. However about a third feared the impact on bus routes and 28 per cent said replacing the gyratory with two-way route would have a negative impact on traffic.

TfL and Islington council said they would consider all responses to the proposals before deciding whether to proceed.

Alan Bristow, Director of Road Space Management at TfL, said: “We’re pleased that so many people have fed back on our proposals to improve Highbury Corner. We are now carefully reviewing all the issues raised to ensure that any proposed improvements work for everyone and can create a better environment for all those who live in, work in or visit the area.”

 Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “It is encouraging that the majority agree that these ambitious plans will improve Highbury Corner, which is badly congested, difficult for pedestrians and cyclists, and leaves green space stranded on a traffic island.

 “The next step is to carefully consider all the responses and look at how best to minimise the effect of changes to bus routes, before publishing our response, which will outline a way forward. If proposals do go ahead, we will work with TfL to minimise the gap between the end of the current bridge work at Highbury Corner and the start of improvement work.”

‘This isn’t about persecuting the driver. It’s about prosecutors taking cycling deaths seriously’


Michael Mason

Michael Mason: died 19 days after being hit cycling in Regent Street

A motorist has been summoned to appear in court charged with causing the death of a cyclist after a crowdfunding appeal enabled a rare private prosecution to be brought.

Gail Purcell, 58, is due to appear at Westminster magistrates’ court on September 6 to face charges of causing the death by careless driving of stand-in teacher Michael Mason, 70, in Regent Street in February 2014.

Mr Mason’s daughter, Anna Tatton-Brown, said today: “It’s something we [as a family] have been pushing for and are keen to have. This isn’t about a persecution of Gail Purcell. This is about prosecutors taking Mick’s death – and cycling deaths – seriously.

“It’s sad we’ve had to rely on charity and public support to do what the police and criminal justice system should have done anyway.”

The legal challenge by the Cyclists’ Defence Fund follows anger from Mr Mason’s family and road safety campaigners at the decision of the Metropolitan police not to prosecute.

It was made possible after more than £60,000 was raised from in excess of 1,500 donations to cover legal fees. It is believed to be the first such private prosecution brought after a cyclist’s death.

Ms Purcell told an inquest in December 2014 that she was driving a Nissan Juke car north on Regent Street, near the BBC, when she failed to see Mr Mason cycling in front of her. She received the court summons on Saturday at her home in St Albans.

The prosecution will enable evidence not considered at an inquest to be heard by the magistrate.

Duncan Dollimore, spokesman for the Cyclists’ Defence Fund, a subsidiary of the Cycling UK charity, said: “This is an important step towards what we hope will be justice for Mick Mason’s family. They have suffered not just the tragic death of a family pillar, but also been woefully let down by the police and legal system at the time they needed it most.

“The Cyclists’ Defence Fund wants to thank everyone who has generously donated. Without their help this private prosecution and the Mason family’s ongoing struggle for justice wouldn’t have been possible.”

Mr Mason, who was providing teaching cover at Grey Coat Hospital girls’ school in Westminster, suffered “severe traumatic brain injury” after being hit from behind at about 6.25pm on on February 25, 2014, as he cycled home from visiting the Apple shop.

His life-support machine was switched off at St Mary’s hospital 19 days later when doctors told his family that the prospect of a recovery was “extremely remote”.

Deputy coroner Dr William Dolman ruled that Mr Mason had died as the result of an “accident”. Under pressure from Mr Mason’s family and media coverage, the Met reviewed its decision not to pass the case to the Crown Prosecution Service but determined it had been correct not to seek a prosecution.


*Note: Ms Purcell’s first name has previously been reported as Gale, as this is how it was listed by Westminster coroner’s court. It is now given as Gail as this corresponds with the speling in her electoral roll entry.