Met with Carl Lammy – Chair of Haringey Mental Health Trust. The promised development of St Ann’s (and much needed and vital development – have you seen the antiquated mess of buildings that form St Ann’s?) has run into a storm of objections from local people concerned that what this really means is a sell-off of public land. Well – yes probably.
In this, yet again, we see this Labour government’s steam-roller approach to their avowed intent – which is to remodel the health service into specialist centres with local super health hubs within which 15% of the budget will be spent on private providers.
We didn’t ever get to vote on that. If such a switch to private providers had been from a Tory government it would have brought forth a howl of protest from Labour supporters – but this is from Labour itself. Put this together with the sell-off of public land assets to finance new builds – and you get protests.
Hence the problems St Ann’s renewal is encountering: they suffer the rage of those of us who never agreed to this program – but they have no real choice or voice in this. Local campaigners together with local politicians including my Liberal Democrat colleague Wayne Hoban and others campaigned against the closure of the X-ray service on the St Ann’s site – and that bit has had a reprieve, but it is only a reprieve. We need an X-ray department at St Ann’s. The very important eating disorder services that are there – and many others – that need frequent x-rays.
Anyway – the point is that the facilities at St Ann’s are ancient and failing. To change them to modern day standards and comfort needs money – and Labour will only make funds available on its own terms, making people jump through the hoops that it wants, regardless of local opinion. And that will see land sold, I am sure.
We have seen this happen in education and in housing and now it is health’s turn. Labour’s modernisation program means – do what we say, sell-off land and involve private companies. Now – selling off land and involving private companies can have their place on occasion – who would want to die the in ditch to say that every single last square millimetre of land owned by the NHS anywhere in the UK must be kept for all time? – but the problem with Labour is that they impose, top-down, a one-size fits all solution rather than taking individual cases on their merits and listening to what local people really want.
Selling assets and involving private firms through PFI, PPP, LIFT etc is a live now, pay later philosophy – where we getting new buildings for our aging hospitals and schools but then the pain comes down the line when we are still paying high costs year after year and all the family silver has gone.