The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

Cross-party panel to probe closure of Camden Road Surgery

    Published: 19 April 2012

    THE Town Hall is to set up an inquiry to probe how a doctors’ surgery was allowed to close down.

    The Camden Road Surgery in Camden Town closed on Friday after nearly 100 years as a neighbourhood GP practice, despite a campaign to keep it open.

    It was transferred to private operators in 2008 and was run first by UnitedHealth and then by a company called The Practice.

    The surgery closed down after the lease on the building was not renewed.

    Candy Udwin, chairwoman of Camden Keep Our NHS Public, said: “It  truly is an horrific example of what happens when you privatise bits of your local health service and you don’t have very much control over them.
    “We still believe that there is a need for a local surgery in the catchment area.”

    Camden Council now plans to investigate the management of the surgery and to see if NHS contracts have been violated by its closure.

    Liberal Democrat ward councillor Paul Braithwaite said he hoped it would lead to suggestions for a way to find a replacement surgery.

    He added: “The North Central London NHS is riding rapidly towards a cliff in March of next year, I think that we could usefully address, making actual recommendations for future accommodation, and not just the conventional political bullshit about learning lessons.
    “I would like us to actually try and make constructive suggestions for our residents in the light of the prospective demise of North Central London.”

    The council’s probe will be conducted through the Town Hall’s Health Scrutiny Panel, a cross-party panel of councillors.

    Green councillor Maya de Souza said: “It did seem to me that one of the reasons we ended up in the position we did was because NHS North Central London aren’t prepared to put any extra capital into it so there was no new building to be found because there is no new building that is a doctors’ surgery ready.”

    She added: “In the terms of this inquiry perhaps what we need to do is have something seeking to understand the NHS North Central London’s policy on spending capital if they need to look to for new premises.
    “I sort of wondered if actually they were quite happy with the reduction as it saves money overall.
    “I think we do need to try and consider the policies of the wider NHS.”

    Cllr John Bryant, a Liberal Democrat and the chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “I think the independent inquiry could quite usefully find out why the NHS NCL [North Central London] could not spend money on equipping a surgery even on a temporary basis.
    “There appears to be rules set out by the Department of Health about that, which NCL feel they could not get around, and that seems to be the problem.”

    He added: “The whys and wherefores is something that the inquiry could examine to find why there’s restrictions on spending, bearing in mind people are still getting ill and we still need facilities.”


    Loss of vital healthcare resource in Camden

    The problem is not isolated and not just a problem in Camden. Once you allow marketforces which necessarily work for profit decide on the delivery of a public service, we are in trouble, especially if neither of them takes responsibility for the closure of such a vital service.
    It is the tax payer who needs and pays for public services and now looses out. Protest has its role but doesnt bring back a public resource lost to competing market forces. Politicians' hands also seem to be tied and what they can do is very limited these days..
    Why not ask the question: How can we protect public resources and hold them in trust for future generations rather than let private companies take them over for profit? How can citizens who are directly affected be directly involved in the governance of their vital resources? We pay taxes and thus should have a right to be inolved in the governance of these resources.
    Maybe look at the governance framework that the Commons movement proposes.

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