There’s growing interest in our campaign to keep Finsbury health services local.
As I blogged earlier this year, Finsbury Health Centre is under threat of closure by Islington PCT. Both the Islington Tribune and the Evening Standard have picked up on the irony of closing this health centre while promoting new polyclinics elsewhere.
The good news is that the GP clinics are set to stay local, with new buildings provided close to the existing health centre. But the wide range of other community health services are set to be dispersed across Islington – bad news for the Finsbury community who have been served by this pioneering health centre since the 1930s.
The Centre’s historic significance is one of the reasons the PCT wants to move. A listed building is a challenge for any owner, and keeping Lubetkin’s masterpiece up to scratch costs money the PCT would rather spend on health care. I certainly don’t want Finsbury residents to have less than 21st century health care. But dragging sick children or pensioners in pain to the other end of the borough won’t be an improvement.
Part of the problem is the way the Government directs funding for public services. As we’ve seen with schools and hospitals, the Government puts more value into shiny new buildings – complete with a PFI timebomb for future budgets – than on the duller but more sustainable investment in maintaining older buildings. I think Islington’s new school buildings are great: but they should be developed by the choice of the local community, not central government dictat.
And that’s the other problem. Primary Care Trusts all over the country are accountable not to their communities but to the man (or woman) in Whitehall.
Meanwhile as far as Finsbury Health Centre is concerned, the local councillors & I have these demands:
– that the GPs stay local;
– that Finsbury residents retain easy access to other community health services;
– that there is full and meaningful consultation with local people;
– and that the PCT is funded properly to provide services where they are needed.