Dept of Health decision: back to the locals

Yesterday Alan Johnson handed down his ‘decision’ about Finsbury Health Centre by kicking it all back down to Islington Council, NHS Islington (PCT) to thrash out.

It’s better than an entire acceptance of the PCT’s case. Interestingly after all this time the Independent Reconfiguration Panel wasn’t satisfied that the PCT had made their case for moving services out of Finsbury Health Centre in terms of patient need and wanted more ‘clarity’. They’ve asked the Council and the PCT to agree a ‘process’ by which they and ‘local stakeholders’ can reconsider at the future of Finsbury Health Centre and patient services. There was a small proviso that charitable funding possibilities be considered along with changing planning permission and sale, but really the best hope offered was that if the Health and Wellbeing Review Committee isn’t satisfied by the end of the ‘process’ it can go back to the IRP for a full investigation. So we’re cautiously optimistic.

The bureaucrats have been busy however. John Foster, the new Chief Executive of Islington Council (and the most highly paid in the country at £200,000 a year), stepped in with an offer to help broker a local solution in March. Most curiously there was a letter from Sean McLaughlin, ‘Corporate Director of Housing and Adult Social Services’ assuring the PCT of the Council administration’s support. The PCT claims in their press release that they want to move forward ‘with the support of the local population’ while they have obviously been organising behind the scenes with Council bureaucrats to get the result they wanted.

We hope our elected representatives, who did such a good job of expressing local feeling and rational thought about patients’ needs in February, will continue to fight for the future of Finsbury Health Centre and the public health services it provides. We will certainly do so.

Plans for our fundraising party on June 18 are shaping up well, with several artists offering work to auction. Services offered include gardening lessons, mending and IT support, and local businesses are chipping in with generous gifts of flowers, food and wine. It would be great to be able to announce that we’re fundraising specifically to refurbish Finsbury Health Centre, but it looks like we’ll need every penny we can get to support our case for keeping the building open. At least we’ll have a great time doing it!

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