Tuesday was a celebration day – for the new community health centre on the site of the old Hornsey Central Hospital as was. I was in attendance to lay the topping out stone. It’s a tradition in the building industry when the building reaches the top floor. There are now only about nine months to go before actual completion and handover.
Yes – there has been lots of controversy about the new community health centre – but my own view is that given the undertaking that there will be no reduction in number of GPs in the borough, everyone will be able to keep their own family doctor and that there would be no more than a ‘reasonable’ walk to them – then what we will gain in terms of better health facilities in Hornsey & Wood Green is to be celebrated.
Anyway – here’s the little speech I made – which will give you my full views:
I am absolutely delighted to be here today to celebrate the Topping Out of our new Neighbourhood Health Center – the Hornsey Central Hospital – as was.
This is an unbelievable day to have dawned!
Having campaigned with local people – originally against its closure – and then through all its incarnations on its way to today’s ceremony – it’s been a long road.
I have always believed that the west of Haringey borough, Hornsey & Wood Green, has tremendous need for additional and better health facilities to be provided for the local community.
I am sure members of our local health trust will agree that the people of Hornsey & Wood Green are a demanding bunch – and rightly so. In one way we are a highly articulate group of people who will give any public authority a run for their money in making sure we are heard.
And in another way we also are a group with a very great demand for health care because of high levels of poverty and deprivation.
I have high aspirations that this new medical facility will contribute significantly to improve the health outcomes for both these groups. This is why have campaigned so hard for so long to help make this happen.
I want to put on record my thanks to Richard Sumray, Chair of the Trust, who long ago at one of my many meetings haranguing him over the years to deliver on a replacement health facility for the old Hospital, promised me that he saw the same need in the west of the Borough that I saw.
And that he was committed to fighting to get the funding to deliver such a facility – no easy task. And he has delivered on that promise.
I have no doubt there will be battles ahead.
Transport for London has still yet to deliver on its verbal commitment to me to improve transport links for the new hospital – absolutely vital.
We also cannot ignore the fears of some in our community that this shiny new hospital will diminish the primary healthcare that local residents have known for generations with an end to a GP who knows your name and your personal medical history.
In my discussions – the Trust has made it clear that this will not be the case – and that there will be no overall reduction in the number of GPs in the borough; that we will be able to retain our own family GP and that we will have a reasonable walk to that GP.
I therefore urge the Trust to continue the work to engage with local people – listen to their concerns and to act to allay their fears.
This will be a community facility so it is vitally important that the community have a full say each step of the way.
There still remain plenty of i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but I hope everyone here today will join me in celebrating what we hope will be a new dawn in the provision of health facilities in Haringey.