PFI and Finsbury Health Centre

The Islington Tribune has published my letter on the problems that Gordon Brown’s PFI obsession is causing our local NHS.

Under PFI, clinics are built with private money and leased back to the NHS, which has to pay back the cost over future years. If the PFI works, money drains from the NHS to the private sector.

If the PFI collapses, the taxpayer has to pick up the bill. The Primary Care Trust says PFI rules make it impossible to keep Finsbury Health Centre in its historic building. That’s not good enough for local people.

Meanwhile, London’s primary care trusts are being forced to invest in new polyclinics. This threatens the GPs and health centres that are already working well for local people. The local NHS will not get the money to improve existing buildings, because the government wants to impose polyclinics instead. It’s crazy that we risk losing Finsbury Health Centre, a pioneering polyclinic, as a result.

This is about more than a building. It is about keeping Finsbury’s health services where local people need them.

Liberal Democrats believe that money set aside in Whitehall for new polyclinics should be given to the local NHS now. Our doctors and our community should choose how to spend it in our area.

Back in June, opposition MPs held a parliamentary debate on polyclinics. Lib Dem MPs pointed out that Labour government plans to impose polyclinics could lead to the closure of up to 1,700 GP surgeries across the country.

Despite Finsbury Health Centre being under threat, MP Emily Thornberry did not bother to speak in the debate, and she voted the motion down.

It is useless having an MP who claims to support Finsbury Health Centre when she does nothing about it in Parliament.

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