PATIENTS in Haringey are fighting back against proposed closures to A&E departments at the Whittington Hospital.

The alarming revelation came to light after an NHS consultation document was leaked setting out four options for the hospital's future — all including scrapping its emergency department in Magdala Avenue, Archway.

Another option suggests reducing the opening hours of North Middlesex's A&E, in Edmonton, and downgrading both to "local hospital" status.

The proposals fall under the North Central London (NCL) Sector Review — part of a wider reorganisation of London's NHS.

The massive shake up will see every hospital in Haringey, Enfield, Barnet, Camden, and Islington designated either a "local", "major acute" or "major acute with specialist facilities".

More than 745 people have signed a petition to save the Whittington's emergency department and more than 89 have signed the petition to save North Middlesex led by Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone.

The petitions read: "As a borough, we are already poorly serviced for emergency hospital services — without a single unit in Haringey itself. I am not opposed to local health services being more efficient, but I will not accept any cuts in the services at our closest hospital."

Ms Featherstone said she would "literally fight tooth and nail" if NHS bosses try to close or even reduce the A&E services which treat more than 80,000 people a year and up to 240 patients each day.

In 2008, the hospital also spent more than £500,000 on children's section at its A&E department.

The MP said: "It is already quite clear local people don't want to lose their local A & E nor see it reduced. That is why it is so important that local peoples' views are heard loud and clear now.

"Otherwise, when the health authority options finally come to public consultation, we may find there are no options that keep the Whittington A & E open...and that goes for North Middlesex, too.

"I support improved clinical outcomes, and there are lots of health services that may be better provided by one or other hospital, but A & E is one of the services that needs to be both local and 24 hours."

The Liberal Democrat is now urging residents to join the fight and speak up before a public consultation is opened to ensure their voice is heard after failing to be reassured by Stephen Conroy, of NCL, that the A&E service would not be terminated.

Closure of the Whittington A&E would mean residents in Hornsey, Crouch End and Wood green would be forced to travel as far as the Royal Free, in Hampstead, of University College Hospital, in central London. Muswell Hill residents could be forced head to Barnet Hospital.

Tottenham residents in the east of the borough would have to look for treatment in east London if North Middlesex, in Stirling Way, had its A&E opening hours reduced.

Backing the campaign is Haringey councillor Nigel Scott, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, who said: "There is no 24 hour A&E service anywhere in Haringey. Nearly everyone in the borough currently goes to the Whittington or North Middlesec in the event of a medical emergency. The impact on Haringey patients would be immense if either were to close.

"The NHS is facing tough times over the next few years and change is inevitable, but some services are non-negotiable."

The leaked letter from Rachel Tyndall, the chief executive of North Central London NHS, to NHS staff read: "NHS London has questioned the need for three, as opposed to two, major acute hospitals in North Central London and they have suggested that we do more work on the clinical models of care and the clinical dependencies between services. Some progress has been made on this front."

Following a public outcry, the letter was denounced by North Central London as "having caused confusion" and a second letter with new wording was sent. In it the Whittingto's future was changed from "to be designated a local hospital but with no emergency take" to simpky stating the Whittington would become a "local hospital".

The Haringey Independent has contacted NHS London for a response.