Islington Chief Exec John Foster delayed his much-anticipated appearance before Islington Council’s Health and Wellbeing Review Committee until 10 December and left Cllr Ursula Woolley, Lib Dem Executive Lead on Health on her own to answer the councillors’ questions on 13 November.
Asked about the discrepancy between the £9.1 million capital cost promoted by the NHS Islington (PCT) and the six architectural and conservation experts who have placed the figure at half of that, Woolley said that they came from “two different worlds”. She had no idea how the two might be reconciled, although she said she was glad that the Council was looking into the issue so deeply.
Her feeling seemed to be that the PCT would be willing to go back to the Department of Health for another investigation before compromising locally on the capital costs issue, or giving full consideration to the idea of a not-for-profit trust taking over the refurbishment and maintenance of Finsbury Health Centre. In carefully-chosen language Cllr Woolley said she felt it ‘unfortunate’ that NHS Islington (PCT) is not more directly accountable the people of Islington.
Cllr. Woolley also talked at some length about her experience working for the World Bank in Moscow, how while she was there she enjoyed the fact that there were many more modernist public buildings like Finsbury Health Centre. She affirmed the evidence given by former Islington South MP Lord Chris Smith, many patients and SaveFHC that “public buildings are very important” to local communities, and she could see why this one means so much to south Islington.
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