Petition

You can sign our petition to keep Finsbury Health Centre open here. We are still collecting signatures. It has now been changed slightly to reflect the changing circumstances – we certainly didn’t expect to still be here over a year later!

To:  Secretary of State for Health

Islington PCT is proposing to sell the Finsbury Health Centre (FHC) designed by Berthold Lubetkin to private developers. Next door, they want to build a GP surgery with no specialist services despite current government policy encouraging multi-service clinics.

The specialist services currently at FHC are used by people from a wide area. They are also extremely important for local residents as Clerkenwell and South Islington have a high population of both elderly people and young families who especially need locally accessible services. In addition, moving the services out of the area and building another GP surgery will be costly, but the PCT has yet to prove that the profits from selling the FHC will counter-balance those costs.

From before the inception of the NHS, the Finsbury Health Centre (FHC) has been not only an architectural icon but a standard-bearer for the delivery of public health care. Because its once forward-looking facilities are now out of date, the FHC deserves a refurbishment to bring it in line with modern standards. After an exhaustive report into the decision to close Finsbury Health Centre, Islington Council found that it would be far more cost-effective to keep it open and recommended that it be refurbished and retained to provide NHS community services.

The PCT is disregarding both its own expensive consultations over the past six years and the health of our community by proposing this sale. It should be stopped.

We the undersigned petition you to:

1) Immediately stop any moves by the Islington PCT and its agents towards selling the Finsbury Health Centre;

2) Guarantee money for the full refurbishment of the existing building for continued use as an NHS health centre, with additional use of adjoining land, if needed;

3) Guarantee that all services currently available at the Finsbury Health Centre will remain where they are.

On 14 Jan 2009 we submitted over 1850 signatures and this letter to Alan Johnson MP at the Dept of Health:

Dear Rt Hon Mr Johnson,

We are petitioning you to guarantee that Lubetkin’s iconic Finsbury Health Centre on Pine St EC1 will be refurbished and its NHS services remain there. Over 1800 people have signed this petition, but we have learned a lot since we wrote it. The major revelation was that LIFT monies meant for refurbishment involve sale of the building and an expensive leaseback arrangement with Islington PCT (recently rebranded NHS Islington). After two Freedom of Information requests and a well-attended public meeting with the PCT here are still many unanswered questions :

1. Why after six years of negotiation which was on the point of agreement with English Heritage and The 20th Century Society did the PCT suddenly decide to sell the building instead of refurbishing it? Why sell it if the district valuer only thinks it worth only one pound to a private buyer?

2. What was done with the claimed £1.5 million a year maintenance budget for the Finsbury Health Centre? How has the originally estimated cost of £4-5 million to refurbish recently doubled to £9.8 million (£5974 sq/m)? Finsbury Health Centre was designed for flexibility, and English Heritage is not asking for original materials to be used.

3. Why are they proposing to close the only health centre in the south of Islington and serving the City and Holborn when the population is expected to rise by between 25-30,000 in the next 10-15 years – especially when the government have said they want more health services ‘closer to where people live?’

4. Why in their public consultation was there no option offered to keep FHC open?

5. Considering the reputation of the building – as many architects have said, if Finsbury Health Centre can’t get conservation grants they don’t know what could – why was no other finance option besides PFI considered for refurbishment?

A decision will be taken by the board of Islington PCT at a public meeting on Thursday 29 January. We hope you or your ministers will be able to intervene with Rachel Tyndall, Paula Kahn and the board of Islington PCT to get proper answers to our questions and save this living, vibrant local health centre. If they decide to sell we have been advised that there are solid grounds for a judicial review.

Underlying all these questions is larger question of who will benefit from the proposed sale of Finsbury Health Centre? It will not be residents in South Islington, Clerkenwell, Bunhill, Holborn, or the City. They will lose important local health services like physiotherapy,  and a huge source of local pride in a building which was an inspiration for the NHS. Any government – Labour or Conservative – should be proud to look after it.

The old version of the petition:

PETITION AGAINST THE SELL-OFF OF LUBETKIN’S FINSBURY HEALTH CENTRE

To the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Minister for Health:

We the undersigned petition you to:

1) Immediately stop any moves by the Islington PCT and its agents towards selling the Finsbury Health Centre;

2) Guarantee money for the full refurbishment of the existing building for continued use as an NHS health centre, with additional use of adjoining land, if needed;

3) Guarantee that all services currently available at the Finsbury Health Centre will remain where they are.

Background:
Islington PCT is proposing to sell the famous Finsbury Health Centre (FHC) designed by Berthold Lubetkin to private developers. Next door, they want to build a GP surgery with no specialist services despite current government policy encouraging multi-service clinics. The specialist services currently at FHC are used by people from a wide area. They are also extremely important for local residents as Clerkenwell and South Islington have a high population of both elderly people and young families who especially need locally accessible services. In addition, moving the services out of the area and building another GP surgery will be costly, but the PCT has yet to prove that the profits from selling the FHC will counter-balance those costs.

From before the inception of the NHS, the Finsbury Health Centre (FHC) has been not only an architectural icon but a standard-bearer for the delivery of public health care. Because its once forward-looking facilities are now out of date, the FHC deserves a refurbishment to bring it in line with modern standards. As late as November 2007 we understood these were underway with monies from the government’s LIFT programme after two separate feasibility studies. What has changed since then?

The PCT is disregarding both its own expensive consultations over the past six years and the health of our community by proposing this sale. It should be stopped.

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6 Responses

  1. This is one of the pearls of local tours. It also ties in with the Lubetkin buildings opposite Sadlers Wells for those on architectural tours.
    From time to time there has been a tour client currently receiving treatment at the FHC. Without exception there has been nothing but high praise for the facilities.
    Why get rid of a superb success? It needs only a little up-dating for which Lubetkin has already paved the way.

    Adele Leffman (associate member of the Institute of Tourist Guides)

  2. I am shocked by the dunder-headedness of the idea of selling off the FHC. Lubetkin brought together the ideals of modern facilities for ordinary people which still hold good today. The PCT must listen to both local users and to the international archtectural community. The PCT must examine ways of keeping FHC in use in perpetuity. This is not a matter of keeping an old building going to the detriement of modern health care. FHC, with a little imaginative improvement is fit for purpose.

  3. I support the campaign to save Finsbury Health Centre.

  4. I support this campaign as a a patient that uses the health centre regularly. It is not just a functional health centre but an important architectural landmark.

  5. […] A year after starting work on Highpoint One, Tecton was appointed to design a new Health Centre next to Sadler’s Wells theatre in the Clerkenwell area of London. It was the first time that a progressive architectural group had been awarded a municipal commission in Britain and offered an important opportunity for Lubetkin to publicly use architecture as a catalyst for progress to change people’s behaviour. He was determined that the design of the Health Centre would encourage the public to become healthier, from the “sunny and airy effect” of its glass brick façade, to the cheerful murals painted on the walls by Gordon Cullen which adjured visitors to “live out of doors as much as you can” and to benefit from “fresh air night and day”. Finsbury Health centre was in danger of being demolished in 2009. Visit the Save Finsbury Health Centre website to find more information https://savefinsburyhealthcentre.wordpress.com/petition/ […]

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