Inequalities in Haringey’s health funding exposed

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, today launched a campaign to address the historic health funding inequality in Haringey. As a borough, Haringey receives less funding for health services than ‘inner’ London boroughs such as Camden and Islington.

The Liberal Democrat MP met last Friday with the Interim Director of NHS Haringey, CCG Chairs and local GPs to discuss the funding issue. The participants confirmed that the funding inequality was having a severe impact. Haringey patients, for instance, will sometimes not have access to the same services as Islington patients, and experience much longer waiting times.

In March, Lynne Featherstone wrote to the Secretary of State for Health regarding health funding in Haringey. The response confirmed that spending on public health had been lower in Haringey than other boroughs. A further letter from the Minister for Public Health confirmed that the new funding formula was being considered, and the final calculations would be published later this year.

Councillor David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Adult Services spokesman, said:

“Haringey residents face significant health inequalities. It is completely inappropriate for health funding and access to services to be based on a postcode lottery – especially when the funding formula doesn’t recognise Haringey’s real need. A new funding formula which recognises and addresses the current inequalities is urgently needed.

“After 40 years in charge of Haringey Council, the Labour administration has shown no signs of addressing this issue. I am glad that Lynne Featherstone is now taking this up on behalf of Haringey residents.”

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“I was shocked to hear about the effects of the funding inequality on Haringey patients. It is simply not right that Haringey residents should wait longer for, or not receive the same treatments as residents of Camden or Islington.

“I have written to the new Secretary of State for Health, asking him to meet urgently with a deputation before the new funding formula is decided. I will also be contacting constituents and asking if they want to sign up to support the campaign.

“Local people may know about my campaign for fairer funding for Haringey’s schools. You can expect a similar fight and effort to get fairer health funding for the borough.”

Liberal Democrats meet luncheon club heroes and call for Council to do more

Lynne Featherstone MP and Cllr David Winskill with luncheon club users at Woodside House, Wood Green.To meet the local heroes who have kept a local luncheon club open despite loss of Council funding, Lynne Featherstone MP and Councillor David Winksill this week, visited Woodside House in Wood Green.

The visit included talking with luncheon club users about how they have managed to keep the Tuesday club going despite the complete cut in funding by the Labour Council last year. Whilst the club is now run by volunteers, it no longer provides hot meals or personal or medical help due to the lack of permanent staff. Uncertainty remains as to whether the current service will be able to keep going without more help.

Local Liberal Democrats have recently unearthed £1.5million that has been left unspent in the Council’s Older People’s Budget this year. This has raised serious questions as to why drop-in centres, day centres and luncheon clubs (like those in Woodside House) have closed if funding is still available. Only two of Hornsey and Wood Green’s four luncheon clubs have managed to stay open, leaving many older people in the borough without this essential lifeline.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“I am so impressed with these local heroes who have soldiered on to keep the Woodside luncheon club open, despite the loss of funding last year. But it’s been tough for them, they are now running a much reduced service and the future of the club is uncertain without cash to keep it going.

“Luncheon clubs are cheap to run, but give so much back, both to the individual and society at large. A little would go such a long way, and Haringey’s older people deserve to get their luncheon clubs back.”

Liberal Democrat Adult Social Services spokesperson Councillor David Winskill adds:

“It’s frankly appalling that the Labour Council has cut so fast and deep that £1.5million for older people’s services remain unspent this year. The money could have gone to keep luncheon clubs in the borough open. It’s clear from speaking to club users here today, that this service is loved and treasured, and sometimes the only opportunity some older people have to get out and meet other people.

“I am urging this Labour Council to put some money back into services that were cut last year to help support this very vulnerable group. The luncheon clubs are too important for Haringey’s older people and I hope that Labour Councillors will agree to my suggestions.”

Local Liberal Democrats visit Haringey’s first food recycling cafe

Local Lib Dems at Foodcycle Cafe in Stroud GreenTo get a first taste of Stroud Green’s most recent green community initiative, local Liberal Democrats on Friday visited the newly opened FoodCycle cafe on Ferme Park Road.

The cafe has set up shop in the empty ‘Mind building’ in the heart of Stroud Green, and aims to reduce local food poverty, by cooking healthy cheap lunches, using surplus food from local supermarkets.

Liberal Democrat councillors in Stroud Green and Crouch End have helped get the scheme off the ground by supporting their grant application and spreading the word to local residents.

The cafe, located by the junction Ferme Park Road/Stapleton Hall Road, serves lunch each Friday 12.30-2.30pm. Following a short Christmas break, they will again open their doors to the public on the 7th January.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“FoodCycle is such a fantastic community initiative, with local volunteers helping to cook healthy, cheap lunch, using vegetables and produce which would otherwise have ended up on the landfill.

“It’s an amazing scheme, with seriously yummy food.  I would encourage anyone up for a healthy green meal to come along.”

Crouch End Cllr David Winskill adds:

“By using this free kitchen space, and getting free food from local shops, this amazing team of local foodies can really help work towards reducing food poverty and enabling people to get involved and develop skills.

“And they are setting a fantastic example for other people who want to be green and serve their community. I’m really proud to have been able to help them get off the ground, and I look forward to seeing many similar projects in Haringey in the future.”

Haringey PCT remove out of hours walk in clinic

Harringay online (award-winning local site) alerted me to rumours about the closure of the out of hours walk in facility at the Hornsey Hospital Community Health Centre. A letter arrived at the same time – so here it is in black and white. I have contacted them urgently on this and Cllr David Winskill (health spokesperson for Liberal Democrat council group) is in process of getting a meeting with them.

This is the same sort of shambles as we saw over the proposals they put forward on the Whittington A&E – ill thought out and without consultation. The PCT this time have summarily removed the service – suspended – pending evaluation because it is too expensive to continue whilst the evaluation is going on.

As this service is delivering on one of the promises made in terms of what would be in the new centre to get local people on board – it is totally unacceptable to remove the service – let alone without consultation.

As to cutting costs – well perhaps a few of the high salaried jobs could go in administration instead of a front line service as a first stop. There’s a novel idea!

Dear Ms. Featherstone

Re: Walk in centre at Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre 

I am writing to inform you about NHS Haringey’s plans for the provision of the 8 – 8 GP led health service at Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre.

NHS Haringey commissioned the pilot walk in service in April 2010 for people who required medical attention outside of normal GP practice hours; at weekends and also during normal hours but without having to make an appointment. 

It was always our intention to review the service after completion of the pilot phase to see how it complemented the other ways of accessing care, including NHS Direct, our out of hours services and extended GP opening hours. We recognized that we would need to establish whether the walk-in service was the best way of providing urgent unscheduled care and was not duplicating other GP extended hours services or being used as an alternative to General Practice appointments.

The pilot was due to finish on 31st July 2010; however, we extended it for another month and will now suspend the pilot from 1st September 2010 .This is to ensure we have sufficient time to put in place effective communication plans.

We recognize that this temporarily removes a service that has been of value to many patients.  Under ordinary circumstances the preferred option would have been to continue the pilot whilst completing our evaluation.  However, due to a rise in the payment required for the GP out of hours service this is no longer an option for the PCT. 

We have put in place a communications plan to inform the public that the service is no longer available, and signposting them to the other ways that people obtain medical advice and treatment.  These are:

NHS Direct:  0845 46 47

Out of hours service:  020-7388 5800

Seeking advice from your local pharmacist

Accident and emergency centres at The Whittington and the North Middlesex

 I would also like to stress that NHS Haringey is committed to ensuring that Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre is a key community asset for the provision of Primary and Community Care services in the area.  Services that are already provided at the centre include: GP Services provided by the QMP for their registered patients during normal opening hours and some extended hours, physiotherapy, foot health; speech and language therapy; midwifery and health visiting; counseling; sexual health clinics; minor surgery;  dermatology outpatient clinics and diabetes outpatient clinics. We are working very closely with the Whittington Hospital to provide new clinical services including gynecology and obstetric outpatients. .

Once the pilot has been evaluated we look forward to updating you on future arrangements at Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Health Centre.

Yours sincerely

Tracey Baldwin

In the public interest! Whittington continued……….

So – on Monday the draft ‘options’ for the future configuration of our local health services were passed up the chain to the Strategic Health Authority for London – NHS London. Well – that is the news that reaches me. No – we are not to know their thinking.

My understanding is that these are the first cut of reconfiguration options that NCL (North Central London Sector) have sent to SHA (Strategic Health Authority.

I feel we should have access to this document as soon as possible and I have sent an email to Rachel Tyndall (Chair of NCL) asking for a copy. Just in case this request is refused – I will submit a Freedom of Information request on Monday.

On the democratic accountability around all of this – why is it that local authorities have no representation at the decision making tables? It turns out we do – an officer form Enfield has been nominated to NCL. It is outrageous that a paid officer has been made the effective “place man” to represent  the 1.2 million people in the NCL area.

It seems that this was agreed following meetings between NCL and Leaders and CEOs of the boroughs – sold down the swanny in my view. My LibDem colleague, Dave Winskill’s suggestion is, at the very least, all lead members on adult services get together to discuss this and the implications for their services and demand representation.

After all, I have no doubt that any savings that these savage cuts make (if they succeed in their evil passage) will not be shared with the Boroughs who will surely bear some of the extra cost of community based care?