What’s in a name?

In a bizarre twist the day before NHSI (PCT) Chief Exec Rachel Tyndall was due to be questioned by Islington councillors at the Health and Wellbeing Review Committee, Finsbury Health Centre briefly briefly became ‘Clerkenwell Medical Practice’. The pictures below show the name being changed back at lunchtime.

It does chime, however, with the NHS’s general obsession with name changes. The newly built GP practice in Richie St is to be called ‘Angel Medical Centre’ and the new primary care centre in Hornsey St will be ‘Holloway Community Health Centre’, thus making the exact location of these places less apparent. Last year, they changed their own name from Islington Primary Care Trust to ‘NHS Islington’ which, while justified as making what they do ‘more accessible’ actually made what they do more obscure. The former Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust also confusingly changed to ‘Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust’ last year. So now for ‘Foundation’ we have to guess ‘Mental Health’.

It turns out that the ‘Central and North London Quadrant’, of which Tyndall recently also became Chief Executive, is not new but has been around all along, and groups five areas: Barnet, Enfield, Haringey, Camden and Islington. Until 2006, it was known as North Central London Strategic Health Authority and seems to stand between NHS London and the different hospital and primary care trusts. One searches in vain for any trace on the web of the newly renamed ‘Quadrant’ body, which is what would give Rachel Tyndall the authority over Whittington A&E.

Even as the Department of Health pays lip-service to ‘reducing health inequalities’ and ‘increasing patient involvement’, it allows the NHS quangocracy to become ever more confusing and remote to ordinary people, just on the level of what things are called. This is without adding the further complications involved with LIFTcos, PFI and other outsourcing, AKA ‘diversifying providers’.

There wasn’t time to question Rachel Tyndall about the brief name-change at Finsbury Health Centre at the 10 December meeting. One can only hope that it was a bureaucratic mistake rather than a strategem lifted from Nineteen Eighty-Four. (Thanks to Martin Klute for the photos)

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