Want to talk to a minister? Find a candidate

Now that the election is on, access to ministerial-level politicians has suddenly got a lot easer. Last week the founders of SaveFHC, along with Dr Peter Baines, toured Finsbury Health Centre with Norman Lamb, Lib Dem spokesperson on health and the local Lib Dem candidates. It was a pleasant enough hour while Dr Baines enthused about the building and its history, and showed off the replicas he’s had done of details of Cullen’s lost murals. SaveFHC talked about the case for keeping the building, and Mr Long did seem to get it, although he made no promises.

He had distinguished himself during the 9 March Health Care in London debate in the Commons by badgering Health Services minister Mike O’Brien about the secrecy surrounding the McKinsey report which underpins the hospital changes across London, as well as talking about the lack of accountability of local NHS trusts. If there is a hung parliament the FHC decision may even land on his desk.

Meanwhile a Labour candidate from Haringey was able to get an hour for a Whittington supporter with Mike O’Brien, and put this entertaining report up on her blog. Her interview was similarly inconclusive.

Emily Thornberry claimed on local radio recently to have “spoken to ministers and the Secretary of State several times” about the Whittington closures. As far as we know she hasn’t talked to ministers about Finsbury Health Centre, much less arrange a meeting for SaveFHC, in the six months since the Council published its initial findings showing the PCT’s case for closure misguided and misinformed.

None of the Islington South and Finsbury candidates speaking on the BBC London show (on health policy) mentioned Finsbury Health Centre amidst much outrage at the plans for the Whittington, which is not in their constituency. Maybe the local bandwagon just doesn’t seem big enough.


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