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Islington Tribune - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 12 June 2009
Patients ignored

• BARB Jacobson’s letter about NHS Islington’s changes to the use of Finsbury Health Centre shows how helpless its patients must feel about insisting that their wishes should be taken seriously (Health centre: we still have fight on our hands, June 5).
When staff and patients are instructed by local bosses to transfer to alternative accommodation in Holloway, they are unlikely to feel they have any choice in the matter, however displeased they are by the changes. They probably assume that the move has already been approved at some higher level, although no such decision has yet been made.
The government has long stressed its desire for greater “patient choice”. Practical evidence of its intention is clear from the extensively publicised announcements about LINks, a recently created organisation to facilitate greater public participation in the running of the NHS. It is therefore ironic that NHS Islington has been ignoring patients’ expressed support for maintaining their well-loved health centre, and persisted in going forward with moves they do not want.
I know of no evidence that the high modernisation costs (£9million) of Finsbury Health Centre were estimated by a disinterested party; it seems likely the sum was quoted by developers keen to make higher profit out of alternative new builds. As Ms Jacobson points out, outside experts agree modernisation could cost less than £5.7million.
Anyway, the primary care trust seems quite prepared to pay the higher price on another health centre.
The maintenance of a building of particular medical as well architectural interest, nationally as well as locally, deserves consideration in its favour beyond local usefulness alone. Islington likes to remind its residents and tourists too that it was once the home of Dickens and George Orwell, so it is curious that it is so careless of the health centre’s well-justified later claim to international fame.
NHS Islington’s failure to carry out quite minor maintenance over the last decade should also make it more contrite about years of neglect, and only too willing to accept some support from a not-for-profit organisation.
I am delighted to hear about the celebration of the health centre at 7pm on Thursday in Holy Redeemer Church Hall beside Exmouth Market. The participation and generous donations to the raffle and auction show the extent of interest by businesses and artists as well as residents.
I trust that many of my fellow pensioners, reluctant to traipse over to Holloway for health care, and proud of their renowned health centre, will join the crowd being entertained there.
Islington Pensioners’ Forum

• WE have a fight on our hands just trying to keep all-important medical services local. Everyone living in the area, whether they use Finsbury Health Centre or not, should be concerned that frail, sick and elderly patients be made to make long journeys amounting to several miles to obtain services they currently receive near their home.
All this was brought about by an arbitrary decision made by an executive civil service without proper consultation with those on the receiving end of those services.
The health centre has been giving excellent service to the community for 70 years. It is a homely, welcoming place, purpose built to accommodate innovation in medical science.
The renamed Islington Primary Care Trust, now Islington NHS, seems more concerned with closing down services than asking patients what they really want: whether they would be happy to continue receiving care here or be sent miles away for ancillary medical services.
This southern part of Islington is ideally situated for medical care. It is off the main road while having good access to Tube, buses and trains.
Speculators be warned, the health centre is a world-renowned, grade I-listed (functioning) building. It cannot be legally knocked down and any alterations not associated with medical care would be restricted. Architects familiar with medical services say there is no restriction in improving the building for the purpose for which it was built – medical care.
If Islington NHS continues with the intransigence shown by Islington PCT it will be failing in its moral duty to provide care to the vulnerable. Save Finsbury Health Centre committee has demonstrated that Islington NHS cannot justify closing the health centre on financial grounds because it has “so far refused to meet us about the alternative of using a not-for-profit trust to modernise the building”.
Islington NHS does not wish to speak to residents and councillors concerned with the closure of medical services.
Over-pompous civil servants should not be allowed to close essential medical services without consulting users properly.
Those who are concerned with the arbitrary closure of this much-loved health centre may wish to attend “Nothing is too good for ordinary people!”, a celebration of Finsbury Health Centre at Holy Redeemer Church Hall, Exmouth Market, at 7pm on Thursday. There will be a raffle, auction, music and a bit of local history.
You may wish to contact www.savefhc. or phone 0207 7833 1395.
Percival Street

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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