Islington Tribune
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Islington Tribune - by TOM FOOT
Published: 3 July 2009
Ache of things to come... 3-mile walk for physio

Health centre moves appointments

ELDERLY patients at Finsbury Health Centre got a taste of what life will be like if the Grade I-listed building is closed.
With two physiotherapists on maternity leave, appointments were moved from Pine Street to the Northern Health Centre – around three miles’ walk, or at least two buses, away in Holloway.
One 87-year-old disabled woman, who did not wish to be named, cancelled her appointment because she could not make the journey.
Barb Jacobson, who has led the campaign to prevent the closure of the centre, said Islington Primary Care Trust – now known as NHS Islington – had been told not to move services until a final decision has been taken.
“Doctors are saying that patients are only being moved to Holloway who won’t have a problem making it, but we are hearing from patients who would need an ambulance to get over there,” she said.
The PCT says the changes are only temporary and that normal service will be resumed in August.
NHS Islington deputy chief executive Helen Pettersen said: “I would like to reassure patients that we are not moving physiotherapy services out of Finsbury Health Centre. The current changes to some patients’ appointments are temporary and occurring because two of our most senior physiotherapists are on maternity leave.
“All patients are given the option of attending their physiotherapy appointment at Finsbury Health Centre, if they so wish.”
But the upheaval has highlighted transport problems facing the elderly if the centre shuts and services move to Holloway, as planned.
Leading architects, heritage groups and councillors have criticised plans for the health centre, designed by architect Berthold Lubetkin in 1938. The PCT maintains refurbishment of the building is too expensive.
Patients delivered a 1,000-signature petition to the Town Hall last week. They recently raised more than £6,000 for their campaign at a charity auction.
Campaigners have been invited to sit on a working party debating the building’s future following an intervention from the then Health Secretary Alan Johnson earlier this year.
Islington South Labour MP Emily Thornberry opposes the closure proposals. She said: “The council leadership should be looking at every possible way of saving the centre – whether they can support NHS Islington or run other council services from the building too.”

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