Hornsey Central Hospital: what's going to be built on the site?

Met yesterday with the developers (Acorn) who bought the bit of land that Haringey Primary Care Trust controversially sold off at the Hornsey Hospital site. The land shouldn’t have been sold off, but it was (regardless of local residents’ views). We haven’t even yet had in black and white that the monies will go on Hornsey Hospital – but as it has been sold off, I wanted to find out what the plans are now for it.

So – this meeting was with the buyers of said land. Undoubtedly they are approaching us locals with a softly softly approach to say their development means us no harm. It would be true to say that they are clearly professional and very keen not to run into trouble – and therefore appear to have gone to some lengths to meet possible concerns over planning issues. They are lucky that the vast majority of the site is not overlooked by residential properties and that Haringey Planning Department seems to have forewarned them of the likely list of objections. With their plans involving a good proportion of social housing – at least this isn’t one of the awful ‘ram expensive houses in the space where back gardens meet’ set of proposals.

As I said to them – the most important people in this are those directly affected, so when the application goes in we will see what they say. We desperately need social housing – but existing residents must first make sure they are happy with the proposals.

A new Hornsey Hospital film

I had a good Good Friday. I didn’t do any work. Well – just a few blue envelopes for a good cause. Reading in the Guardian this morning Michael White‘s take on Brown’s modus operandi. Michael gets it right. Gordon won’t be pushed around by the media. He uses the example of the hoo ha over Brown’s stealth pension raid which rumbled on in the press from last Monday without comment from him, M’s thesis being that Brown waits ’til all critics have critiqued – then enters the fray to put a (hoped for) definitive full stop with no come back on the subject. Psychologically sound analysis of Mr Cautious Annie I say!

The hospital site after demolition work started
From the health of the nation to health locally (!), I see that the film for which I was filmed about Hornsey Hospital has made it to the net. Clearly a lot of work has gone into the film, talking to lots of different participants and editing it all together nicely. You can view it here.

Lobbying for Hornsey Central Hospital

Off to the Haringey Primary Care Trust to meet its chair, Richard Sumray and Helen Brown. We (Richard Wilson, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson on Haringey Council and I) want a progress report on Hornsey Hospital, and what’s happening to clinics in Wood Green, on top-slicing, on the Government’s attitude towards District General Hospitals – and on and on.

On Hornsey Hospital it would seem that the bid is stuck on a technicality. We were assured that this was just technical and that the Health Department was looking to work it through. Our bigger interest is in what is going to be provided on site – and our 5 point prescription had a mixed reception. No – there was no need for more GPs – but yes there could be opening hours providing better service out of normal hours for local people. Good! Because thus far the GP contracts had delivered lots of dosh for doctors but not extra hours for local people.

As to the impact on pharmacists – we couldn’t manage to get them to promise that all would survive but we did manage to get a promise to supply all the local pharmacists with enough information early enough for them to bid or form a cooperative to bid for the new pharmacy.

We all agreed that it was vital to provide more public transport. Phew!

And in terms of consulting with GPs and local people we did manage to extract a ‘we can look at that’ when we put forward the need to ask far more widely what was wanted than just Haringey’s Area Assemblies. We suggested they do this through the GP practises and I think they agreed that it could be done when the consultation on the future of local Primary Care goes out. I suggested that could be a separate and special survey / piece of paper asking specifically about Hornsey Hospital.

So Lynne Featherstone MP at St Mary's School as part of National Story Telling Week– some progress I guess. I then had to leave Richard there to finish the meeting as I had to go and read a story to some of the children at St Mary’s for National Story Telling Week.

That was complete fun! I read a really ghastly tale of a boy who, to cut a long story short, watched so much television and ate so many crisps he ended up a crisp. And there was no happy ending. It was huge fun for me – certainly. I just hope the kids enjoyed it as much as I did.

Hornsey Hospital: protesters go to Number Ten

Rush Lynne Featherstone MP presenting petition to 10 Downing Street about Hornsey Central Hospitalto Downing Street to meet three very, very old ladies who have come to present a petition to Patricia Hewitt via No 10! The Prayer (wording) on the petition reads:

We the undersigned condemn: the neglect of Hornsey Hospital and its site; the neglect of older peoples’ services in Haringey; the failure to inform and consult with local people. We the undersigned demand that services promised for older people at Hornsey Central are provided at the site with no sell-off of NHS property.

It is signed by over 500 signatories – but there could have been many, many more. I myself have met with both local and London-wide NHS officials to try to ensure that the proceeds from the sale of part of the site go back into the redevelopment of the site – as despite our protests I fear they are steamrollering through the sale of the land.

The three ladies were fantastic. I just hope I am like that in my advanced years. Hetty Bower is 101 years old, Violet Reiners was born in 1915 and Alison Flora Selford was born in 1920. I met them, and Janet Shaprio (who organised all of this) outside the railings at Downing Street. So we went through security. The police and guards were all soooo nice to us and we took lots of photos before knocking on the door of No 10. Sadly, T Blair didn’t open it and invite us in for tea! I thought how lovely it would have been if he had! Although I think he might have got the wrong end of our tongues if he had. The trio of ladies may have been old in years – but vigorous of conviction they definitely were. It was a joy to meet them.

Now I must pursue a request in the covering letter from Janet Shapiro to ask for a debate in the House of Commons on recent changes in NHS funding, and in particular the involvement of private partners. So that will go to Patricia Hewitt – and I will try in Business Questions next week to catch Mr Speaker’s eye to also ask for that same debate!

Hornsey Central Hospital: watch our campaign launch

We (Lib Dems) launched our ‘prescription’ for the future Hornsey Central Hospital.

I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues are supporting a bid from the local health trust to the Government for £7million of public money to deliver the long-promised replacement for the closure of the old Hornsey Hospital.

Well Lynne Featherstone and Richard Wilson launch their 5 point plan for Hornsey Central Hospital– this ‘replacement’ has gone through so many incarnations over the last six or so years that the original promises of what would be provided have changed and changed and changed. It is now envisaged as a sort of super-clinic and we want to ensure that this new facility (should we win the bid) will deliver additional and wanted services – and won’t simply be a reorganisation of existing services.

We must have additional health facilities – not just reorganised ones.

Moreover, we want the Trust to work closely with local people and local health professionals to identify what services are most wanted and needed – and to make sure that the new facility doesn’t detract or impact negatively on local GP practices and local pharmacists. And we want to jump up and down about public transport links to the site. The old W2 was taken away on the basis that there was no hospital there – well now we need it back and more access. No new facility should require people coming for treatment to either live next door or have a car.

We haven’t heard the result of the bid as yet – but it must be imminent as the Government has announced the first few successful bids for the ‘Community Hospital’ pot. So – fingers still crossed.

Hornsey Central Hospital

At last – finally I have my meeting with Ruth Carnell, the new London Health supremo. Her body is the one that matters in terms of making sure that if lands are sold off around the Hornsey Central Hospital site then they monies come back to develop health services on the rest. I had been wanting to meet her for some time to ask for guarantees to ring fence the proceeds for the Hornsey Central site.

At first they refused – and said I had to see the local Health Trust (Enfield and Haringey) which was useful – but they do not have the authority to say where money will go. So having got the meeting (and I am genuinely grateful to Ruth for coming over to Portcullis House and giving me her time – with 31 separate trusts to deal with she is just a bit busy) – I put the case.

Ruth was willing and is going to write a letter saying that we can have the proceeds provided there is a credible plan on the table. I guess that is as good as we are going to get and if the bid to the Government for the other £7 million that is needed succeeds – then there should be a credible plan.

Obviously whilst I had the opportunity, I put some of the points I’ve been campaigning on with my Lib Dem colleagues: the need for net gains in terms of GPs; the need for ordinary local people to have a real input in terms of what is provided on the site in terms of services; issues around fears that private providers might be brought in and about the knock on dangers this would have for the Whittington, etc.

We didn’t see eye-to-eye on all the issues – particularly the role of private providers in providing NHS services – so I’m sure there will be more debating in the future. But for now – things are moving forward in pretty much as good a direction as we could have given the rules and policies Labour have drawn up for health services. And in the New Year, my colleague – Health Spokesperson Cllr Richard Wilson – will be publishing the Liberal Democrat Prescription for Hornsey Central Hospital.

Hornsey Central Hospital

Main event of the day was a public meeting organised by Save Hornsey Hospital Campaign titled ‘Save Local Health Services under Threat’ – which they most certainly are.

I was chairing the meeting and there were a number of speakers, including a really impressive doctor Jacky Davis who told it how it is. She laid out quite clearly the scenarios which are leading to the privatisation of the NHS and demonstrated the harmful effect that so called ‘patient choice’ has had in letting the private sector cherry pick – whilst the NHS (our NHS) is left with less funds and all the difficult cases.

We also had Maria Duggan – a local health expert and local resident – who spoke passionately about the death of services for older people in the west of Haringey. We have very high numbers of older people in the wards in the west of the borough – more than in the east – and yet no council facilities grace the west.

The long-promised all singing all dancing replacement facility for older people that was meant to be delivered in exchange for stopping the campaign to save Hornsey Central Hospital has never materialised.

In fact, the only bit of the proposals to supply beds for older people on the site has collapsed – a mix between Haringey Council withdrawing their sponsorship of that bit and the Primary Care Trust (PCT) taking so long and changing tack so many times that the Council gave up trying to work with them.

The Lib Dems have been campaigning for ‘Action Now’ on Hornsey Central Hospital after the six years of broken promises. Our fight is to make sure that health services are finally delivered – and that the development is about what is needed and wanted locally.

Shirley Murgraff – a long-standing community campaigner – tried to get across the urgency and extent of what was happening in the NHS and to get people signed up to the National Campaign to Keep the NHS. Richard Stein laid out the legal possibilities of challenging what is happening.

Sue Secher, Sue Hessel and Janet Shapiro all gave rousing speeches and more people are needed to sign up to the campaign. There are a number of fronts to be fought on – from pressurising Haringey Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to making sure everyone local to Fortis Green clinic is aware that they can now put in their two pennies worth on its proposed closure.

There was a representative from the PCT there who tried to say that they were consulting. But as the ‘discussion’ (she was careful to make this distinction) will only be advertised through the newspaper or on lampposts – so there will be another job to do to make sure that people really know what is going on.

The bid to the Government for £7million towards the cost of the new proposed health facility on the Hornsey Central Hospital site will soon be decided. Together with £3.5 million from a LIFT project and the sale of two clinics and some land – this delivers the £14 million funding for the new facility. Of course – the problems are around how much will be private and what will be additional rather than shuffling deckchairs.

The Liberal Democrats have a 5-point plan for Hornsey Central if the bid comes in – which is why I have supported the bid. My pragmatic stance is: let’s get the £7 million and then fight to get what local people want out of it. To get the money we have to jump through some of the Government’s hoops – however much we might disagree with them.

The five points are:

1. More GPs and clinic sessions provided – not just the existing GPs and clinics we already have reshuffled and centralised. There needs to be a real dialogue between the PCT and local GPs to ensure what is provided is wanted by the practices. It is essential that coverage of GPs and GP practices across the area remains and that there is a net gain.

2. Real engagement and consultation with patients, residents, voluntary organisations and health workers over the development and relocation of services. As the promise was originally to replace the services for older people – their needs must be addressed and therefore full engagement with older residents is a priority.

3. Improved public transport to Hornsey Hospital, to ensure it is accessible – particularly for older people and parents with young children. The PCT needs to work with Transport for London to get existing bus routes extended to reach the site and the W2 route reinstated as a minimum.

4. Protect our community pharmacies by working with existing pharmacists and carrying out an impact assessment before opening a new pharmacy at the Hospital.

5. Ensure that the proceeds of any land or property sale go back into site.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are lots of pitfalls and dangers – but at least if we can fight for net gain and proper, and I mean proper, engagement – then just perhaps we can squeeze something out of the current disaster.

Anyway – top marks to the Save Hornsey Central Hospital campaigners who had worked so hard to get this meeting together. It can be very hard work to get people informed and out of their houses – but the hall was packed and the passions ran really high.

Memorial service at Hornsey Central Hospital

A very, very special memorial service at the war memorial chapel at Hornsey Central Hospital (which will be preserved whatever happens on that site)! I think this is the first time the memorial has been opened for years for the memorial ceremony and, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – with so many of the names of those who fell there – it was truly moving.

I talked to one of the veterans who had served in the Navy. It was just extraordinary to think of what this one man saw and witnessed. I won’t reveal what he said about sailor’s reputations in regard to each port of call – still cheeky at 80-odd! But alongside the humour, he also told me that he and one other colleague were the only survivors out of eight men attacked in a gun turret. It is impossible to understand what that generation saw and survived. And every time I write the message to go on the wreath I lay – and I thank those who died that we might live – I am moved to tears.

Afterwards I was chatting to lots of the people who had come – and the last chap to nab me was very agitated. Basically he wanted to express his anger – as a serving member of the RAF – as regards how he didn’t think it was fair for lads to fight for their country but when they were in need of state support (housing) they couldn’t get anywhere because immigrants got all the houses. And did I think he was racist, and political correctness was ignoring blokes like him, and he would have to vote for the BNP – there was no alternative.

Now whilst I said to him that I didn’t think we were likely to see eye to eye – I don’t think it is racist to bring this sort of grievance to light. The BNP made huge inroads in the east of London because Labour ignored the ‘already heres’. I don’t think it is just white working class – which was his argument. I think it is a real battle between the entitlement people who have worked and paid into the system for years feel they should have against the needs of the newly arrived.

I wrote about this clash of the already heres versus newcomers. I wrote extensively on in my chapter in Britain after Blair because I think there is a real and unaddressed issue here. And that issue, above and beyond this hopeless unfit for purpose Home Office, is about the allocation of a limited pot of public resource.

So – this young man was very, very angry with a country that he fights for but which he believes no longer cares or listens to people like him. I didn’t agree with his more prejudiced remarks – but I do agree that these are the issues we need to resolve if we are to avoid the BNP finding any favour for its hideous bile. Breeding grounds for discontent – particularly when they have some validity – are easily swung to extreme views.

Anyway – at that point I had to go on somewhere else and so made my excuses, though as I left the young chap then said I was quite good looking for an MP – and would I like to go out for a drink! For me though it was off to the Lib Dem Council Group’s Away Day (they didn’t get very far as the venue is next door my constituency office in High Street Hornsey). I took a break out session on crime and policing and then giving a general talk on how to take the issues that matter to their ward constituents and turn them into action.

Hornsey Central Hospital

Met with the first of the local GP practices that I am hoping to see as part of the Lib Dem campaign to get a first-class health facility on the old Hornsey Hospital site as promised six years ago by those who closed the original hospital down.

The local trust is bidding for “Community Hospital” money from the Government – and it involves bringing a practice or two into the site itself and provision of lots of services that they hope all the practices will use for their patients. It will save lots of visits to hospitals too.

So I have written a letter of support for our bid – levering in the sort of money that we can get from this bid is, in my view, our best chance of getting this level of services into the west of Haringey and on the site of the old hospital. However, I want to make sure that the GP practices, who after all know the community and its local needs, are fully involved in the process and will be hopefully having further meetings in due course.

Hornsey Central Hospital

Ruth Carnall is the Chief Executive of the new London Strategic Health Authority. I wanted to see her because at the recent public meeting on Hornsey Hospital it was made clear that a parcel of land from the site is to be sold off. Now – it is one thing if it is sold and all the money comes back into developing a new health facility on the site – but another if the money disappears into some distant pot and we here are left high and dry without hospital, without the land and without the dosh!

Where the money goes is down to this new body – so I wanted to meet them, but they didn’t want to see me! When my office phoned, (and my ‘arranger’ Ed is pretty insistent) – they insisted that I go and see the local Chief Executive of the Enfield Haringey Health Authority – Tracy Baldwin. So I did on Friday.

Happily, the fuss I made about wanting to see Ruth Carnall had preceded me in that Tracy Baldwin had been to the London body and been greeted by ‘who is this Lynne Featherstone?’! According to Ms Baldwin this was helpful in that the bid for a government pot of money is ready to be submitted (this is the larger part of the funding needed for the new facility) and if the government grants the bid then, together with the proceeds of the land sale, there would be the money and the plans to start work on the new facility on the site early in the new year. And – importantly – the London Strategic Health Authority have now said that Haringey will have first call on the proceeds. So – not quite a cast-iron legal contract, but pretty good news and if the bid is successful it looks as if the money will come here and the project will go ahead.

I am writing a letter of support for the bid – because this is the best shot at delivering facilities we are going to get. It’s best to get the best of what’s possible. There are other lesser options in the bid – but this is the one to go for. I am optimistic – and next it will be a matter of working to ensure that local people and users of local GPs services get an input to the next round of decisions about the site and its development.

We are a long way on from last year when it looked like only private money for private health would make the project viable. At least with this system the vast majority of the funding is NHS and the consequent facilities are mostly what local people say that they want. So – fingers crossed.