'It has been empty for too long' - doctor's surgery could use vacant health centre (From Times Series)
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Hampden Square Medical Centre could move to Brunswick Park Health Centre, says NHS England
A doctor’s surgery could be temporarily moved into the vacant Brunswick Park Health Centre by the end of the year, NHS England has announced.
The Hampden Square Medical Centre looks set to make use of the Brunswick Park facility, which was fully refurbished in January after it was burned to the ground during an electrical fire in 2010.
A rent dispute between the previous GP, Doctor Stella Okonkwo, and NHS England meant the high-quality medical centre has sat empty since its costly renovation.
NHS England has announced it will not be renewing its lease at the Hampden Square Medical Centre, which it says is too small and no longer fit for purpose.
It will instead move the practice to Brunswick Park on a short-term basis while continuing to look for a long-term tenant for the facility.
In a letter to Barnet Council, NHS England’s director of primary care Neil Roberts said: “The preferred option for NHS England would be to utilise a building already purposely built for GP services at the Brunswick Park.”
Mr Roberts also confirmed that Hampden Square’s current GP Mariya Hamid would be retiring before the move, and that a caretaker GP would be put in place if the transfer to Brunswick Park goes ahead.
Campaigners who have been fighting to reopen the new Brunswick Park centre welcomed news of the possible move, but some patients remain uncertain.
One Hampden Square patient of more than seven years told the Times Series: “I’m sure they would deny it but in a situation like this NHS England is under huge pressure to open the Brunswick Park Health Centre.
“There is not a lot of transparency – we at the surgery have barely been told anything.
"We have heard a lot of whispers about private practices moving in to Brunswick Park in the long term and that is a concern as they may have different motives. NHS England needs to tell us what it is planning.”
Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers and campaigners from the East Barnet Residents’ Association however said they were pleased with the announcement.
Conservative politician Ms Villiers said: “It looks like it could be a step in the right direction. I am determined to get progress made on this issue as it has dragged on for too long.”
Residents’ association chairman Dan Hope said: “We’re glad that some kind of GP services are being restored to Brunswick Park.
“It is what it was built for and we’re edging closer to the full restoration of the facility.”
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