No sooner did the group who met last 4 November decide to postpone the next Monday’s meeting because hoped-for information about the PCT’s real intentions had been delayed, came word that the PCT is planning to move the orthotics and biomechanics services before the matter of use of the FHC has been formally settled. Again they’re pretending that these are not ‘local’ but ‘borough-wide’ services, and even more, that the consultation of two years ago (which is what is under question) justifies no further consultation with the public. Lawyers acting for two FHC patients have applied for an injunction against this.
Everyone agrees that the basement location of these services, currently without a lift, is unsatisfactory – why not just use the Pine St Centre next door? It’s in good enough nick to be lived in (as proved by recent squatters) and the PCT now owns it. Surely it would not take much more than a clean-up and some paint to bring allow these services better conditions without moving them out of the community? When will they take into account the fact that travelling three miles is a big deal to the local people who need these services?
What this may prove is that the PCT has been stringing along the Council and local people all this time. They announced a couple months ago in the press and on their website that they are interested in plans for refurbishment via charitable funding, but have been scheming for alternatives all the while. The PCT (or rather the LIFTco they part-own) has obviously spent a fair bit on the now defunct plans for a new Southern Neighbourhood Health Centre; our guess is around £30k. If they had ever really been interested in coming to a ‘local solution’ this year they could have already had a professional options appraisal of both use and what charitable funding might be available for only £20k – and we’d be some way towards modernising FHC and bringing Pine St back into use. Instead, the PCT pretended Heritage of London Trust Operations isn’t a ‘serious’ organisation, and lied about unanswered phone calls and emails.
Maybe it’s time for the Council to stop pretending that this PCT will ever negotiate in good faith and finally refer this matter to the Department of Health. The meeting with councillors has been rescheduled for the 30th, the Health and Wellbeing Committee also meet that evening. As one NHS insider put it, the people who run the PCT ‘have no shame’.
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