Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Haringey's Lost Hospitals with Sue Hessel

Wednesday 9 September at 8 pm
Meetings for the autumn will be at a new venue; the North London Community
House, 22 Moorefield Road, N17. [The old Post Office
building] This is just around the corner from Bruce Grove British Rail
Station, where Bruce Grove meets the High Road in Tottenham.]

Following the vicious round of hospital closures in the 1980s , resisted by several NHS hospital occupations [see our The NHS is 60 booklet], Haringey has suffered from a less dramatic but equally damaging losses of hospitals. In Tottenham High Road both the Prince of Wales and Jewish Hospital were shut, Despite the opposition from campaigners. The Haringey Health Emergency committee , part of the still existing London Health Emergency, was set up with support from Unison Heath branch and the Trades Union Council. HHE campaigned on health issues for some years and several RaHN supporters were part of this. The health provision for residents in the borough took a severe dip from the closures. Sue Hessel describes the events round the Hornsey Hospital closure. In 1998, when the health authorities first tried unsuccessfully to close it, the then health spokeswoman was quoted as saying (People Power saves Hospital", Hornsey Journal, July 23rd 1998) We listened and learned that the hospital was loved and extremely popular, and an essential requirement in the area".

They didn't listen for long. However it would truer to say that the hospital, our last in Haringey, was left to crumble by the Haringey Primary Care Trust. It cost the taxpayer a fortune over the years in security fees, as it lay idle, leaving our community with no services on the site for nearly a decade.

But what is just as scandalous is that when they did manage to close our cottage hospital in 2000 it was with a promise that it would be used to care for the elderly. They silenced much of the opposition saying that there would be sheltered housing, and then that 64 rehabilitation and respite beds would be provided.

The sad tale of Hornsey Central Hospital is a cautionary one, and shows that people should never believe what they are told ! We were never told it was going to be a glorified GP centre with add-ons until recently and certainly not at the time we were "consulted" on its closure. We were not told that it would require the closure of Middle Lane Health Centre or sale of Fortis Green clinic.

A more successful campaign has been described in the RaHN booklet The NHS is 60, published in May last year. Peter Sartori and Paulette Case Robinson were part of a joint action committee working to oppose the closure of Haringey Mental Health Day Hospitals from June 2003 .

The Day Hospital Campaign Group again supported by Unison and HTUC - managed to reverse the loss to MH Users and get one unit re-opened. The campaign has gone on and as the ACTive EIGHT group has functioned as a Europe-wide body advising hospital and health authorities, and generally promoting the interests of Service Users. Again, RaHN supporters were active in this, making history as well as celebrating it.

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