Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Action group to fight GP privatisation

Fears a private company could run a Haringey health centre are gathering pace among its patients. Last month Haringey Primary Care Trust announced its intentions to put one of the GP surgeries at the Laurels Health Centre in Tottenham out to bidders.
Under EU law this service has to be tendered on the open market and private companies as well as local GPs can apply to run the service.

The Laurels, in St Ann’s Road, opened in 2004 and is billed as the borough’s first polyclinic, or neighbourhood health centre.

But users of the centre met this week to start up an action group protesting at plans.
Patient at the Laurels, Simon Hester, said: "We know what privatisation means - to put profit first. The point of this meeting is to see if we can stop it."
Dave Morris, from the Stop Haringey Health Cuts Coalition, spoke at the meeting. He said: "The chickens have come home to roost at our very own health centre which is threatened with privatisation.

"The Laurels was set up for the people of Tottenham from public funds for public people and not to be a cash cow for private companies. We feel we should be driving what's happening there. "It is very important we speak out as patients, as health workers and as GPs."

Candy Udwin, who has campaigned against similar privatisation plans in Camden, said: "If they can nationalise banks what are they doing privatising our health service? It makes no sense whatsoever.

“If you don’t stop it now it’s going to spread through Haringey. We have to say we are not going to have our NHS destroyed by a market system which is showing us everyday it does not work.”

Pete McAskie (who you can just make out holding the banner to the right in the above photo), Green Party candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, said, “The Green Party is the only mainstream party to oppose privatisation of our public services. This is only the thin edge of the wedge, and we can expect more of our health services to contracted out to the privateers, we need to put a stop to this now. I fully support this campaign.”

Haringey PCT director of primary care and performance, James Slater, said: “The PCT is seeking a primary care provider to manage one of the two practices based within the Laurels Healthy Living Centre.

“We have advertised openly and received a number of applications from a range of providers including several local GPs.

"We held meetings as an informal, friendly opportunity to discuss the ongoing plans for Haringey and specifically the neighbourhood.”

Photo and bulk of this story courtesy of The Haringey Independent

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