Committee meeting filled with SaveFHC supporters

SaveFHC supporters outside Islington Town Hall 19 Oct, 47 people attended the meeting that evening

Nearly 50 people crowded the room last Monday to lend their support to the Campaign to Save Finsbury Health Centre at the Health and Wellbeing Review Committee meeting October 19. With the help of some of the gorgeous explanatory cartoons drawn by Gordon Cullen in 1938 to explain the principles of FHC’s design (thanks to John Allan), photos from RIBA and Islington Local Studies Centre, and maps properly labelled with bus routes and all the sites under consideration, we made our case. We based it on objective patient need, medical research into health and design both at the time of FHC’s creation and now, and the importance of FHC to our community in terms of both its function and its heritage. A photo of the members of 1930s Finsbury Borough Council which commissioned FHC watched over much of the discussion afterwards.

Councillors received the report well, and seemed keen to pursue the community trust option. Councillor Donna Boffa, who attended the meeting despite severe ill health, spoke movingly about how important it has been to her that Finsbury Health Centre is so close by and runs a full (not ‘satellite’) service, so that staff have been able to attend in her home when needed. She also said that because it is small with low staff turn-over, patients and staff get to know each other over time, and emphasised how important it is when dealing with one’s own or family ill-health to feel recognised as a person and not just another medical problem.

People from the floor talked about how much the building and what happens in it means to them, both as long-term residents and recent arrivals; how they feel it is ‘their’ health centre. Two grandchildren of FBC councillors were there, and spoke about the vision of both the building’s design and its function. A surgeon who lives locally said it seemed ridiculous, that after spending £610 million on St Bart’s down the road which included a much less suitable grade 1 building, the NHS couldn’t find even their high £10 million estimate to do up FHC.

Islington Buildings Preservation Trust spoke afterwards, with Conisbee Structural Engineers who had surveyed the concrete during Sprunt’s feasibility study. Bob Spragg of Conisbee said that the building, while urgently needing superficial repairs to the concrete, is structurally sound.

After this the Health and Wellbeing Review Committee will hear from Chief Executive John Foster and Executive for Health Cllr. Ursula Woolley at their next meeting Monday 16 November, 7.30. There will be findings from the evidence put forward on 10 December, with a final report and decision at the Committee meeting 7 January 2010.

Thanks to all who helped distribute leaflets, showed up on the 19th and have been signing our petition: your support has made the chances for a sensible resolution to this far higher.

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