A great example of ‘people power’ has forced the re-opening of East Barnet health centre after a year’s closure, now that an official start date of 19 October has been confirmed.
There were excited reactions from local people on their Facebook campaign page, who had feared a further long period of closure after asbestos was removed and then modernisation work took place.
GPs from the centre who met NHS Property Services this week were told that the £1 million refurbishment work was now complete, and opposition had been dropped to the doctors returning before a new lease had been signed.
A campaign by local patients, strong opposition from Labour councillors Phil Cohen, Laurie Williams and Rebecca Challice, and MP Theresa Villiers, as well as persistence from the GPs, persuaded the landlords NHS Property Services to agree to the GPs moving back and seeing patients again. They had been temporarily based in cramped conditions at Vale Drive clinic in High Barnet when East Barnet was closed last September.
In a statement from the GPs they said: "The GPs are pleased to announce that after a long delay the practices will be returning to East Barnet Health Centre. We are very happy to be able to serve our patients again from within East Barnet Village and are looking forward to welcoming patients, staff and visitors to the newly refurbished health centre. The health centre will re-open to the public on Monday 19th October. We will be working with NHS Property Services to ensure that the relocation proceeds efficiently but would appreciate your patience should any unavoidable complications arise.”
Local resident Helen Pryce who started the Facebook campaign against continued closure was jubilant. "I am so glad that the doctors can now get back to where they should be. The support of the people of New and East Barnet has been incredible. But what the whole campaign has also highlighted is the insidious privatisation of the NHS under this government. More campaigns are needed."
Cllr Philip Cohen, East Barnet Labour councillor said, "Commonsense has prevailed at last and this is great news for the GPs, who simply want to do their job, and patients who will now get their local health centre back.
"This campaign has proved that people power is unstoppable when it is harnessed to a just cause, but also that NHS bodies must have the needs of patients at the forefront of their minds rather than being fixated with buildings and income generation."
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568