Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Life and Death

“Nothing is too good for ordinary people”

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 17 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b683
  1. Iona Heath, general practitioner, London
  1. aque22{at}

    The financing of the infrastructure of public services has betrayed the ambitions of the pioneers of the welfare state

    On 29 January 2009 the board of NHS Islington decided to sell off Finsbury Health Centre. This iconic building has been in continuous public ownership and health service use since it opened in 1938. The decision to sell is symptomatic of the prevailing disregard for history in contemporary society and illustrates all too clearly the negative implications of many strands of current policy, including the private finance initiative, the lack of clarity about local and national responsibilities, and the hypocrisies of “public consultation.” Finsbury Health Centre is a grade 1 listed building and its architectural significance is recognised nationally and internationally. It was commissioned by the Labour controlled Finsbury Borough Council and inspired by Dr Chuni Lal Katial, a first generation Indian immigrant who was then chairman of the Council’s Public Health Committee. It was designed by the immigrant Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin, whose approach was uncompromisingly modern and technically innovative. Lubetkin recognised that health services would necessarily change over …

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