The good, the bad, and the ugly for Finsbury Health Centre

It was an interesting evening at Islington Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee tonight. Not only was physio at FHC discussed, but GP services and performance monitoring, safeguarding of vulnerable adults, news from across the North Central London Cluster and a report from Islington Link were all on the agenda.

In the midst of the current chaos, it was good to see there are still some managers left who are still trying to run health services as a public service.

First up, the good news for FHC: Whittington Health is, as of next Monday, not only moving Physiotherapy services up to the ground floor, but restoring it to a full 5-day service, covered by not just two actual physiotherapists but three. Beverley Senior, who manages physiotherapy for WH, said that they are working to shorten the currently common three-month wait for appointments there down to no more than a month, depending how serious the problem being addressed is. Bravo to Whittington Health for recognising the demand for physio in the south of Islington and doing something about it.

Next, the bad: All NHS property not held by a hospital trust and which has multiple providers of services will pass, with the formal demise of PCTs in April 2013, to a new entity called ‘NHS Property Services’. This will include Finsbury Health Centre.

Now this is where it gets ugly: NHS Property Services (NHS PropCo is a although UK government ‘owned’ it is a private registered company one share holder: the Secretary of State for Health. Part of its remit is to make a profit. Although it is not allowed to sell anything for a year, who knows what will happen after that. Local councils will apparently be excluded from rescuing any NHS properties from the clutches of private developers, but there may be scope under the Localism Bill for local groups to do so. But no one really knows yet.

What is clear, however – the government is planning a huge theft of public property from tax-payers and communities, and it is time to get busy finding out what’s really going on before it happens. The committee will be looking more closely at NHS PropCo at its next meeting in December.