NHS has moral duty over First World War memorial

A local historian insists that the NHS has a  moral duty to  organise and pay for the re-siting of Market Harborough's listed war memorial portico
A local historian insists that the NHS has a moral duty to organise and pay for the re-siting of Market Harborough's listed war memorial portico

A local historian insists that the NHS has a moral duty to organise and pay for the re-siting of Market Harborough’s listed war memorial portico.

Historian and author Bob Hakewill said: “The money for this hospital and the memorial was raised by the great and good of the district.

“The NHS has been caring for the site, but it isn’t theirs.

“It was paid for by local people, for the benefit of local people.

“Now NHS managers are going to make a lot of money from the sale of this site.

“I think local people are entitled to say ‘OK, spend a little of that profit moving our memorial.

“Let me make it crystal clear; If the NHS want to get rid of this site, I believe they should pay for the war memorial to be moved.”

The entire hospital, as well as the memorial, was originally paid for by residents.

The land was donated by town politician George Green, and the buildings funded by local money-raising.

Contributors included important people in local society, like the Viscount and Viscountess of Downe and the Symington family.

And it includes proceeds from whist drives and 5,000 bricks from the Little Bowden Brick and Tile Company.

“So NHS, don’t pass your responsibility for moving the war memorial onto someone else at some time in the future,” said Mr Hakewill. “Do it now, and do it yourself.”

But an NHS spokeswoman dthis week insisted: “We are absolutely committed to protecting and preserving the war memorial.

“If and when the building is declared surplus, legal arrangements will be made to either protect the memorial in its existing location or to remove the memorial to an agreed place.

“There is no threat to the memorial’s future – it will be preserved.”

A joint statement from NHS England (Leicestershire and Lincolnshire), NHS Property Services, and East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We understand how important this war memorial is to local people and the NHS remains absolutely committed to its protection.

“That’s why we will make it a condition of sale that any future developer should preserve and maintain public access to the monument, if the commissioners decide to make it surplus.

“Its listed status also ensures the monument is protected.

“If the NHS paid for the memorial to be removed before any future sale, it would be using NHS funds that should be spent on frontline patient care.

“By making it incumbent on the developer to do the work, we are both protecting local heritage and ensuring that patients receive the best medical care available.”