Reports of victory (and demise) greatly exaggerated in Trib

Also sent to the Trib for publication:

Hopefully by this fourth time round, Tribune readers will have learned to be sceptical when the paper announces Victory! yet again in relation to Finsbury Health Centre. There is still the small matter of getting the PCT’s co-operation, forced or otherwise.

Whether ultimately abolished or merely replaced, PCT will exist for at least another two years, and it still runs the primary care services people hold so dear at Finsbury Health Centre. Without their co-operation, not much more can be done beside strengthen our case. What actually happened Thursday was that councillors agreed to spend time gathering more information this month before finally referring this issue back to the Department of Health at their next meeting Oct 12.

If the matter is referred, Secretary of State Lansley has said when asked that he will put the matter to investigation by an independent panel, but he also has the power to make a decision without their advice.

Despite having plans for a new health centre in south Islington anyway, and the potential savings proposed by the Council’s report, the PCT remains intransigent.

While last Thursday it was very encouraging to hear councillors count our victories in relation to Finsbury Health Centre (still open, with a well-researched council report supporting refurbishment, support from all political parties, PCT finally forced by English Heritage to at least do repairs), we’re not breaking out the champagne quite yet.

The Campaign to Save Finsbury Health Centre certainly has not ‘ended’. For further details soon about our public meeting ‘What future FHC? What future NHS?’ on Thursday 30 Sept, 7.30 in Holy Redeemer Church Hall, Exmouth Market, contact 020 7833 1395 or http://www.savefhc.org.uk

The Tribune did much good in highlighting the potential closure of Finsbury Health Centre two years ago, with articles which spurred our campaign into existence. Although we have come a long way, please stop announcing victory until all concerned parties are working together on this issue. Then I’ll wear that party dress I’ve got lined up.

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