NHS campaigners urge council to fight for beloved hospital in Hoxton – before it is ‘forever lost’

St Leonard’s Hospital, Hackney. Photograph: Dr Neil Clifton.

Health campaigners are urging Hackney Council to lobby the government for cash to ensure a much-loved hospital site is redeveloped for patients.

They want to make sure there is enough money to look after St Leonard’s Hospital in Hoxton.

Some of the buildings on the site of a former 1863 workhouse need some tender loving care.

The Homerton NHS trust would like to take the site over from NHS Property Services – but said it would be too expensive to run alone.

Hackney Keep Our NHS Public campaigner Marion MacAlpine said: “We are campaigning to keep the whole site for the NHS and social care, for urgently needed services to be provided locally.”

Campaigners fear that “because of financial pressures, there is now a substantial risk that although the existing services will be saved, this NHS site will be largely used for housing, including very expensive private flats for sale. This means that the site will be forever be lost to the NHS, at a time of huge and increasing health and care needs.”

MacAlpine added: “It means that the site cannot be used for other important services that currently Hackney residents have to travel miles east to access, such as mental health care for older people, or that we desperately need, such as short-term, step-down care for people leaving hospital.”

Campaigners will gather before Wednesday’s full council meeting to lobby Mayor Philip Glanville and councillors into pushing the government for capital funding for decent hospital buildings.

The five-acre hospital site includes the Ivy Centre, the Louis Freedman Centre, Lawson GP Practice, and the Mary Seacole Nursing Home.

Psychological therapies, physiotherapy, sexual health, dietary help and rehabilitation services are all based there.

Dylan Jones, Homerton Hospital trust’s deputy chief executive, said some of the buildings are “in a state of disrepair, with some areas locked off and marked as dilapidated”.

Maintenance of the buildings – two of them Grade II-listed – is also expensive.

Jones told a governors’ board meeting in the autumn that financial experts predicted that “the costs of running the site will outstrip any income received from us running our services, or rent from other tenants, and make it unaffordable for us as a single owner operating the premises”.

He said: “We would not be able to take on a site that would be unaffordable for us to run and maintain.”

The trust is drawing up a business plan and also looking at the future healthcare needs in Hackney, “strong community affection” for the site, and financial and capital limits.