The landlords for East Barnet Health Centre have still not confirmed whether GPs will be able to re-occupy the site on time and treat their patients, which is why East Barnet's councillors have written again to NHS Property Services demanding to know the date for completion of refurbishment work, which began in April this year.
A meeting between the landlords, the GPs and other health bodies on Wednesday (16 September) failed to resolve the issue of a new lease that NHS Property Services wants the GPs to sign, and the doctors are worried that this could drag on into the autumn. They want to be allowed back to the site from the temporary home at Vale Drive health centre while negotiations carry on otherwise they say patients could suffer.
In a previous reply to the local councillors Tony Griffiths, London Regional Director of NHS Property Services, said they wanted to resolve any issues "prior to completion" but the GPs have been told completion is due on 2 October so he is being asked to give assurances that they will be able to return on that date. Mr Griffiths said concern about a delay was "premature" but his failure to give a cast-iron guarantee that the centre will open in October as stated in several previous communications is fueling fears of this impasse running on into the winter months, when pressure tends to build up on the NHS.
East Barnet Labour councillor Phil Cohen said: “A press release on their website dated 4 April said NHS Property Services had begun the second phase of the work and it would take 120 days, which means it is already behind schedule.
“The GPs have been told completion will be on 2 October, is that date correct? If they really have the interests of patients at heart they will agree that the centre re-open on time while talks continue on the lease.
“Mr Griffiths does not explain why he waited seven months to raise the issue of a new lease and there is a suspicion that it is linked to London-wide talks with the British Medical Association over agreeing new leases for many GP practices.
“East Barnet patients should not be penalised and the GPs should be allowed back on the previously stated completion date. They have been without their local health centre for too long.”
1. A copy of this weeks letter from Cllr Cohen to NHS Property Services Ltd:
Dear Tony Griffiths,
Thanks for your reply of 14 September. You say that you want arrangements with the GPs to be in place 'prior to completion' but when is completion?
The GPs have been told completion will be on 2 October, is that date correct? We all have the interests of patients at heart and we urge you to agree that the centre re-open on time while talks continue on the lease.
A press release on your website dated 4 April said NHS Property Services had begun the second phase of the work and it would take 120 days, which means it is already behind schedule.
We understand that the meeting with the GPs on Wednesday (16 September) made some progress but they were not given a date on which they can return to East Barnet health centre.
We are also aware that there are London-wide talks with the BMA over agreeing new leases for many GP practices. East Barnet patients should not be caught up in those talks and the GPs should be allowed back on the previously stated completion date. They have been without their local health centre for too long.
Cllr Philip Cohen
Cllr Laurie Williams
Cllr Rebecca Challice
Members for East Barnet
2. For more on the East Barnet Health Centre:
For more information contact Cllr Phil Cohen: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568