Kept until the very last of a full agenda, and with the discussion cut off at 10.30 on the dot by Islington Chief Exec John Foster, Rachel Tyndall’s much anticipated appearance at the Health and Wellbeing Review Committee 10 December ended up being something of a damp squib. Tyndall attacked the costing in the Committee’s preliminary findings and grandstanded about being ‘more interested in services than buildings.’ What we do know now for certain, however, is that the PCT is very much committed to fighting for the closure of Finsbury Health Centre right back up to the Department of Health.
Tyndall did say in discussion after the meeting, however, that she would abide by the Secretary of State’s decision if ordered to keep the building open for NHS health services.
In her opening remarks, Tyndall paid the usual lipservice to FHC’s “architectural heritage” and said she understood why people hold it so close to their hearts. Then out came the ‘£400k a year extra’ in rent with LIFT, the impossibility of using any other finance structure, impossibility of upgrading for ’21st century health care’ etc. She attacked Martin Klute’s A4 sheet of indicative costing as being ‘too flimsy for me to take back to my board and ask them to reconsider.’ Cllr Klute pointed out that while the costings produced by the PCT ‘have a lot of pages’ there wasn’t much substance.
Cllr Klute pointed out that there ‘must be advantages in having a building patients and staff like using, with good patient outcomes and low staff turnover.’ Tyndall responded that only 3% of the people who wrote in the questionnaire gave ‘mental health reasons’ for not wanting the building to close. One member of public remonstrated that it was a question of values, and Tyndall agreed that this was probably true. Her fallback position throughout was to ‘agree to disagree’.
Cllr Ece quizzed her on the transport question, and got the stock answer about some services being ‘local’ vs others which are ‘borough-wide’ and how Hornsey St is the ‘fairest’ place to put a ‘borough-wide’ service like physiotherapy since it is in the geographic centre. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to follow this up with a question about how taking physio from two places fairly central to their own ends of the borough and only offering it in one makes it accessible to more people. Or, how do they decide which services are ‘local’ or otherwise?
Twenty SaveFHC supporters gathered round Tyndall afterwards, barraging her with angry questions. John Foster led her away after about ten minutes.
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