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£30,000 charm offensive before Hornsey polyclinic launch

PUBLISHED: 16:12 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 07 September 2010

EXCLUSIVE by Charlotte Newton AN INTERMEDIARY has been drafted in by Haringey Teaching Primary Health Care Trust to liaise with residents over controversial plans for a polyclinic at the old Hornsey Hospital site. Elizabeth Manero, from independent organi

EXCLUSIVE by Charlotte Newton

AN INTERMEDIARY has been drafted in by Haringey Teaching Primary Health Care Trust to liaise with residents over controversial plans for a polyclinic at the old Hornsey Hospital site.

Elizabeth Manero, from independent organisation Health Link, is being paid more than £30,000 for the 62-day charm offensive. It began with a meeting with members of the Better Local Healthcare Campaign last Friday at a member's house in Muswell Hill.

Ms Manero - who set up the not-for-profit Health Link - told the Broadway: "The TPCT is legally obliged to involve the community in how it plans to run the health service.

"They asked my organisation to help them engage with the community over the Hornsey issue.

"The TPCT suggested that I met with the Better Local Healthcare Campaign because they have strong views which need to be heard."

However, there was concern among the cluster of representatives who attended the meeting that most of the decisions on Hornsey polyclinic have already been made.

Sue Hessel, of the Federation of Residents' Associations, said: "I could weep at the amount of bureaucracy surrounding these polyclinics. There was an impressive array of representatives sitting around that table on Friday, all of whom have tried to engage with TPCT voluntarily over its plans.

"Yet it is paying someone £30,000 to talk and listen to us. That money could be better used for NHS services.

"An awful lot of decisions have already been made, so what can we really influence now - just months before it is due to open?"

Sue Secher, co-ordinator of the campaign, said: "We are very disappointed that we are being asked to collaborate with the TPCT at such a late stage and are cynical about whether there is anything to negotiate over."

Under the plans unveiled at the meeting, Ms Manero said three workshops will be held between now and January in west Haringey.

A representative sample of residents will be invited to the workshops and will be offered £20 each to attend. They will be asked what services they think should be included in the polyclinic and it will be an opportunity for guests to voice their concerns and raise relevant issues. There will also be four workshops for disadvantaged groups who cannot attend the general workshops.

In February, there will be a public meeting, led by two GPs, to debate the pros and cons of the proposed polyclinic.

All of the findings from the different meetings will then be presented to the TPCT for consideration before the polyclinic opens in the spring.

A spokesperson for Haringey TPCT said: "Health Link is uniquely placed to engage with the community to ensure that all voices are heard, especially hard-to-reach groups.

"It utilises techniques and methods that ensure the community as a whole can give valuable and needed feedback ensuring the PCT can engage with a wide range of groups."

Under the plans that the TPCT published in May, there will be five polyclinics in the borough and 45 of the 62 GP surgeries have been earmarked for closure.

charlotte.newton@hamhigh.co.uk

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