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Campaigner slams plans to convert mental health day centre into nursery

‘Consequence of cuts to the NHS is the most vulnerable get hit and it’s horrible’

08 November, 2019 — By Emily Finch

The former mental health day centre in Hanley Road

AN NHS campaigner has branded the planned conversion of a former NHS mental health day centre into a children’s day nursery as “disgraceful” this week.

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust sold the day centre in Crouch Hill for £1.3million two years ago.

An NHS sign outside the building in Hanley Road said it was used for “clinical health psychology services” as part of the recovery and rehabilitation services offered in the borough.

Shirley Franklin, from Defend the Whittington Coalition, said: “I think it’s appalling what has happened to this day ­centre.

“These centres are so important for people with long-term mental health problems as a place to go and get out of the house. They are crucial.”

A planning application by Crouch End PreSchool Ltd for a ground-floor and first-floor extension to the rear of the building to adapt the space into a children’s nursery for up to 98 pupils was expected to have been approved by a planning committee made up of councillors yesterday (Thursday).

Ms Franklin said: “The NHS should not be in a position where it has to sell off properties. It’s disgraceful.

“The problem is that the government is not funding the NHS properly.”

She added: “This is why we need a change of government. The consequence of these cuts is that the most vulnerable get hit and it’s horrible. The government need to provide funds to update NHS buildings and bring them back into use.”

Ms Franklin said she remembered when the building previously housed a “brilliant” maternity hospital in the 1970s.

“A lot of my friends gave birth there. It was a nice cosy place,” she said.

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust justified selling the building because it would cost around £500k to £600k to “bring the building fully up to a condition suitable for Trust occupation” and because it had lain vacant for a year.

The Trust’s board of directors, which was chaired by Leisha Fullick, agreed to the sale on January 30 2017.

A spokeswoman for the Trust said: “The sale of the 75 Hanley Road took place in the 2017/18 financial year and was reported in the Trust’s annual accounts for that year.

“Several years ago it had been used by an education and employment outreach service, which stopped when funding was withdrawn and then the building was temporarily used for meetings by some of our staff and service-user groups who now meet at other locations across the Trust.

“The sale was authorised in our usual way, after consultation and approval by the board. It is not part of the St Pancras consultation.”

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