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Islington Tribune - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 29 August 2008
Will health centre sell-off actually save any money?

• TONY Hoolaghan’s defence of the proposed sell-off of Finsbury Health Centre is disingenuous (A pioneer… in its day, August 22). It ignores the recent history of two consultations (run by the Primary Care Trust) for refurbishment, which not only came up with plans for it, but which did have funding in place from a central government initiative called LIFT, reported widely only two years ago. What happened to these monies?

What happened to the previous consultations, one of which alone cost £50,000? The PCT has yet to make the case, especially in today’s property market, that selling off the health centre and building a new GP practice will actually save any money.
The so-called non-local services to be moved are heavily used by local people, many of whom are vulnerable and have mobility problems. The PCT is proposing to move these to Holloway, which is not even a direct bus route away.
The health centre is not only a source of community pride – something which all agree is essential to the health of any community – but provides essential services like physiotherapy and chiropody, which are not otherwise easily accessible in Clerkenwell and South Islington, and one of the rapidly-disappearing NHS dental practices.
We are petitioning Minister for Health Alan Simpson to immediately stop any moves by the PCT and its agents towards selling the health centre; to 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; and to guarantee that all services currently available at the centre will remain where they are.
This is available online at, or paper copies can be obtained from me by calling 020 7833 1395.
Margery Street, WC1

WE were surprised to read Tony Hoolaghan’s assertion that Finsbury Health Centre “costs £1.5million each year to maintain”.
Visitors to Islington Primary Care Trust meetings tell us that former Lib Dem council leader Steve Hitchins seems to be very much in charge of proceedings. Mr Hitchins is well known for his council’s bargain sales of public property – Merlin Street swimming baths, Finsbury Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Lever Street Library, Finsbury Town Hall and Amwell Street bakery, to mention but a few.
We formally ask Mr Hoolaghan to let the Tribune have detailed maintenance accounts for Finsbury Health Centre for the last three years to substantiate his assertion.
We also ask Finsbury’s five political parties, Lib Dems, Labour, Independent Working Class Association, Greens and Conservatives, and the many tenants’ representatives in the area, to write to the Tribune signifying their willingness to take part in a united campaign to save, improve and develop Finsbury Health Centre.
Compton Street, EC1

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Islington Tribune, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to Deadline for letters is midday Wednesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld . Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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