Friday, 28 November 2008

50 Patients Occupy PCT Board Meeting

PCT Chair abandons Boardroom, reconvenes meeting elsewhere, then tries but fails to suppress the patients' presentation. Patients condemn 'unwanted, unacceptable and unlawful' privatisation of the GP surgery at The Laurels Healthy Living Centre.

Haringey PCT Board ignore the presentation and instead push ahead with their controversial and damaging mass privatisation strategy threatening any new or changing health services and facilities.

On Wednesday 26th November at 3pm 50 patients, mainly from the South Tottenham area and mainly users of The Laurels Healthy Living Centre, lobbied the Haringey Primary Care Trust Board meeting at St Ann's Hospital, South Tottenham. The lobby was called by the Laurels Action Group, a new group launched at the beginning of the month. As well as patients present there were members of local residents associations, older people's organisations and health campaign groups. The lobby was about the growing controversy over the threat of privatisation of The Laurels 'PMS' GP practice. The practice is based in the Laurels Healthy Living Centre, South Tottenham, which is also earmarked by Haringey's health managers for one of their proposed Polyclinics, which could then also face privatisation.

The patients were shocked when the PCT Chair, Richard Sumray refused the customary presentation opportunity to address the Board, saying that the meeting's Agenda was 'too long'. Those present therefore had to occupy the Boardroom in order to make their voices heard. Dave Morris, a patient at the practice under threat, distributed written copies of the presentation to all Board members and proceeded to go through the points. He was repeatedly told by the Chair to 'shut up' but stated that he had an obligation to inform the Board of the serious concerns about the tendering process, the lack of consultation with Laurels users, and the 'improper and unlawful' plan to develop a Polyclinic in a public building built in 2003 with strict legal restrictions on its usage.

A similar presentation had been successfully made by the LAG to the Council's Overview & Scrutiny Cttee on 13th November and as a result the PCT had been forced to admit to Councillors on the Committee that the consultation 'had been botched'. The PCT had reluctantly conceded it must re-run the consultation, and letters were sent out to patients this week for some meetings in December. However, as Mr Morris demonstrated to the Board, the letters were 'worse than useless' as they failed to even mention let alone consult over the key issue of the sale of the 'PMS' GP practice there! The Council's Overview & Scrutiny watchdog committee will reconvene next month on December 11th to 'review the situation'.

Kathryn Dean, a member of Haringey Green Party (in the picture above, first from the left) said after the meeting, “The PCT are trying to railroad through this proposal so that they can begin the process of privatising huge swathes of our local health services. More evidence of the failure of marketisation in all its forms hits our TV screens daily, so vital public services like health must not be left to market forces”.

Photo and bulk of the story courtesy of The Laurels Action Group
Contact - Simon Hester (patient) Dave Morris (patient)