Hornsey Central Hospital: the latest plans

Haringey PCT presented their update on Hornsey Hospital to a meeting yesterday. The good news (potentially) is that they have financial closure and the building will be built. The battle now is over what services get provided, which GPs will be based there, how local pharmacies will be impacted as they want a bit of a pharmacy on site, whether extra public transport can be provided (it is served only by one bus currently) and how all of this will be decided. Will consultation be wide and reach all users and stakeholders? And will we and our GPs be listened to?

It was an extremely robust meeting. The Better Local Healthcare Campaign group are extremely concerned that this is a privatisation of our health care. They raised the issue of the building actually being used for residential or commercial purposes. Richard Sumray, the Chair of Haringey PCT, denied this categorically and said whilst it had been in early proposals as alternatives – it had fallen as they had managed to find funding without the need for either of those proposals.

There is no doubt that there will be some private provision. That is Labour’s avowed proposition – that 15% of our health provision will come from the private sector. However, from what I could tell at the meeting, there is a fundamental commitment to this being and remaining an NHS service. I guess that we all have so little faith in what the Labour government tells us – especially because there have been so many varied incarnations of promises on Hornsey Hospital – that we are all concerned that what we are told may not be what happens.

My key issue is GP practices. The Trust is quite clear that some current GPs will have to move into the new, super-centre – otherwise it would not be viable. They deny absolutely that they are looking for a 50,000 patient list – but that they will commence with 15,000 rising to 25,000 years hence. Moreover – all practices will be able to use the new facilities – and thus a network of better health services will be provided locally.

My concern, which I raised pretty strongly, was that all the GPs and practices are really brought into the planning of this new facility. I have had reports from GPs of feeling pressured, being concerned that if they don’t move in or do what the Trust wants they will be punished financially and so on. So I asked the Chair about coercion, punishment, engagement etc with GPs and they absolutely promised that this (engagement, not punishment!) starts now. If they do work together – then this could be a real step forward. If the Trust steamrollers its way through and doesn’t listen to local people and GPs – it will be the opposite.

In terms of the concerns around local pharmacies in Crouch End being adversely affected – the Trust seems to be talking to them about them forming a collective to run the new pharmacy themselves. If this could come to fruition that would be a good way forward and an inclusive one. I haven’t heard recently from the local pharmacies – so I hope that it is as we were told at the meeting.

Lastly – transport. You couldn’t choose a worse placed site for lack of public transport. Only one bus now runs there. I have twice met with Peter Hendy, Commissioner of Transport in London on this issue – as the last thing we should be creating is more car journeys or poor access to such a facility for local people. On each occasion Peter has said – when it is a live project – let me know.

Well – with financial closure this is very live! And as my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Gail Engert (Muswell Hill) pointed out – it takes Transport for London a couple of years generally to get going on a new route (let alone the decade it took for the 603). So after the meeting I suggested to Richard that now is the moment to really push the transport aspect forward.

More generally – Richard Sumray has promised that over the coming weeks and months we will be given specifics and be consulted on this. I have over the recent weeks put out a health survey door to door (cos not everyone goes to these meetings or even hears about them) and part of the health survey is about what local people want at Hornsey Hospital. When they all come back – I will be feeding in the views to the Health Trust too.

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