PCT board given final chance to change

It’s not quite the end of round four yet. Monday night the Health and Well-being Review Committee agreed the report of their investigation of Finsbury Health Centre. Our amendments to the report of SaveFHC’s evidence were also accepted, as was an impressive feasibility study produced by architects John Cooper and John Allan, to be part of the appendix, which confirms FHC’s suitability for ’21st Century healthcare’.

Rather than deciding to refer the FHC decision straight away to the Dept of Health, councillors also decided to give the Executive Board of NHS Islington (PCT) a last chance to discuss it at their next meeting on Thursday, 25 March. This gives us a good excuse to picket the PCT’s 338-346 Goswell Rd headquarters, albeit early morning: the meeting starts at 9.30am, so to catch people going in we’ll need to be there about 8.30. Since the board meets ‘in public’ people can also attend the meeting, and witness for themselves whether the non-execs on the board actually ‘represent the people of Islington’ as claimed.

Assuming that there is no major rebellion by the board (that is to say if they’re even given a chance by Chair Paula Kahn and Chief Exec Tyndall to discuss the report), referral will happen at the next HWB meeting on Monday 29 March.

As Cllr Meral Ece pointed out at Monday’s meeting, the Secretary of State for Health could put an end to this at any time with a decision to keep the health centre open. When asked about this possibility at the Save Whittington A&E demo last Saturday, MP Emily Thornberry claimed that ‘nothing’ could happen before the election, although Parliament is still sitting and making other decisions.

Another thing which came out at the meeting is that yet another NHS board has been formed “to facilitate co-operation between NHS Islington and NHS Haringey”, chaired by former Islington Council leader and PCT board vice-chair Steve Hitchins. Coming on the heels of the revelation of a secretive ‘North Central London Sector’ board across five boroughs with the leak about plans to close Whittington A&E, NHS London seems to be creating new bodies for each new initiative. This makes direct scrutiny of their decisions more difficult for the Review Committees of all the councils affected.

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