Islington Tribune
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Islington Tribune - by TOM FOOT
Published: 26 September 2008

Helen Cagnoni, Andrew Da Silva, Barb Jacobson and Thomas Cooper outside the Finsbury Health Centre
Break-up of historic health service ‘a done deal’

PROTESTERS confronted Islington health chiefs yesterday (Thursday) demanding that they spike plans to sell-off the Finsbury Health Centre.
Patients challenged Primary Care Trust chief executive Rachel Tindall outside its headquarters in Goswell Road, producing a petition with 1,200 signatures calling for the historic Grade-I listed building to be saved.
Ms Tindall maintained the iconic health centre in Pine Street was too costly and must be sold to a private developer.
Consultation papers on the controversial plans will be unveiled on Monday, but patient campaigner Barb Jacobson, who lives in Roseberry Avenue, believes the sell-off is already a done deal.
She said: “The Finsbury Health Centre is the pride of the borough but the chief executive said if it wasn’t listed they’d knock it down.
“They say it is too expensive to maintain – but where is the evidence? It sounds to me like they have made up their minds already.”
Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin designed the health centre for a radical Finsbury Council. It opened in 1938 and soon became the envy of health services around the world. For the first time, a range of hospital outpatient services was provided – including physiotherapists, podiatrists, dentists and a speech therapists – combined with a team of local GPs in a publicly funded service.
The success of the centre – based on a “polyclinic” model pioneered in the former Soviet Union – would later influence the then health minister, Aneurin Bevan, when he created the National Health Service in 1948.
Sixty years later, the PCT, which owns the building, wants to break up the service and move parts of it two miles away, to Hornsey Road.
The government is pushing hard to introduce polyclinics across London as part of a major shake-up of the NHS by health minister Lord Darzi.
Helen Cagnoni, whose family have been going to the centre since it opened, said: “This goes against calls in the government White Paper for ‘the provision of more services closer to people’s homes’ since it will force residents in Clerkenwell to take buses or minicabs for services they can now reach by walking.”
A PCT spokeswoman said the full plans would be available to the public on Monday when a crunch consultation begins. A final decision will be taken in January.

* To help save the centre put your name down on the online petition at petitions/stop-the-sell-off-of-the-finsbury-health-centre.html

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