A STATE-OF-THE-ART hospital is half-empty more than four years after being built due to a disagreement over rent and running costs.
In a situation described as “scandalous,” Finchley Memorial Hospital, in Granville Road, is half-empty because different parts of the NHS cannot agree over terms and conditions for renting it out to GP surgeries and other healthcare providers.
Health spokesman for Barnet Council’s Labour group Phil Cohen said that a chance was being missed to ease some of the “major unsustainable pressure” on the NHS and called on the Barnet CCG, the NHS body which commissions the borough’s health services, to solve the problem quickly.
Mr Cohen said that the hospital could help ease the beds shortage at the Barnet and Royal Free hospitals and that there was scope to accommodate community health facilities such as a minor injuries unit or physiotherapy unit.
He said: “It doesn’t make any sense to be commissioning services for half the hospital while leaving the other half-empty.
"It’s poor economics and a very poor use of taxpayers’ money.
“One of the problems is that it’s been incredibly difficult to find out who is responsible for setting the rent and paying the money.”
The hospital currently houses a walk-in centre and a falls clinic as well as children’s orthopaedics and language therapy services, among other services, but rooms on upper floors are said to be empty.
Richard Cornelius, leader of the Barnet Council, agreed with Mr Cohen at last week’s full council meeting that the situation was “a scandal” and called for “flexibility in terms and conditions, so the hospital can be filled”.
Mr Cornelius said: “It remains under-occupied because of rules set by the NHS property company about facilities management costs and rent levels, which make it unattractive for GPs and other NHS providers to rent the site.”
When contacted by The Press, a spokesman for Barnet CCG said it was “working closely” with other bodies within the NHS and “making
significant progress” towards securing a range of new services at the hospital.
He said a programme to provide new services called Reimagining Finchley Memorial would be launched later this year. “We are taking a pioneering approach with GPs across Barnet to base a primary care hub at the site, alongside diagnostic, community health and care and well-being services,”added the spokesman.
“We will also work closely with the local community to explore what additional services could be provided from Finchley and we have already engaged the voluntary sector.”