The PCT is spending money on Finsbury Health Centre for the first time in fifteen years, and has promised (barring orthotics) to move no further services out. This is a major victory for our campaign, whatever worries there are still for the future. All SaveFHC supporters should take a moment to pat ourselves on the back, whether you’ve put your name on the petition, donated money, or supported in any other way.
The PCT may have in the end been snookered into keeping FHC by the cuts, but if we hadn’t been active and tenacious over the past two years the building would now be lying empty, awaiting some unknown fate.
Although you wouldn’t think by now the PCT had anything to lose by telling us what’s going on, the repairs and changes which the PCT are calling ‘a mini-refurbishment’ have been treated with what Cllr Martin Klute called ‘their accustomed opacity’. So far all attempts by SaveFHC to get a detailed list of the works, what exactly they are costing and who is overseeing the builders have been rebuffed. The changes, whether ordered by English Heritage or not, however, have both EH’s and LBI Conservation’s approval. We can only hope they have had a full list themselves, since the reports are of internal walls being moved as I write. In general outline, besides the EH repairs, the rest of the £350k is going on: moving admin up to where the Palin Centre offices were; moving physio – or what’s left of it – up to the ground floor; making more clinical space in the basement.
A paradox as yet left hanging is that while the works need to be done by the end of March but include moving orthotics, the consultation about which doesn’t end until 6 April. The PCT has been asked by Health and Wellbeing Chair to get back on this next week, as well as with a statement of official how many days a week physio is offered.
The bigger picture
Of course if the health bill goes through the uncertainty about FHC’s future will continue. Almost every weekend has seen imaginative protests by UKuncut, including turning Picadilly Boots into a clinic; Keep Our NHS Public has been active and today KONP and NHSdirectaction are holding a rally, with an auction of NHS services, at the BMA special meeting in the Grand Connaught Rooms Gt Queen St WC2 9.15-5pm. There should also be a large NHS contingent on the March for Alternatives on Saturday 26 March. The latest updates are posted on our Twitter feed, which appear on SaveFHC’s blog or can be viewed without an account on http://twitter.com/SaveFHC.
New Constitution for FHC Community Trust
Because of the future uncertainties, at their last meeting in February the FHC Community Trust decided to turn itself into a full Building Preservation Trust. A draft constitution is now ready based on the model given by the Architectural Heritage Fund. The next meeting is this Thursday, 17 March 7.30pm at St Clements Church, King Square EC1V, hope to see you there.
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