CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Four years on and where is the replacement for St Luke’s

06 July, 2017

• THE other morning I went for a coffee with a friend: I got to hear about a relation of hers whose teenage daughter desperately needed some form of short-term residential care for a worsening personality disorder.

What had been tried, a “care in the community”-based approach, was just not working. Ten years ago this person could have been offered a residential placement in St Luke’s psychiatric hospital off Woodside Avenue near Muswell Hill.

This facility was set up to meet the needs of young people and catered specifically for this age group. However in 2013 it was sold off to a property developer, the justification being that the money accruing from the sale would be used to set up a new facility in a more central, easier to get to, location in either Camden or Islington.

Four years later the replacement location for this service provision promised has yet to appear and probably never will. Meanwhile Camden’s child and adolescent mental health service is busier than ever.

Yes, there are new homes on the site, ones that offer great opportunities for buy-to-let investors, as the asking prices start at well over half a million, well beyond the reach of any first-time buyer, let alone a nurse or social worker.

In the past five years the profits of the country’s top five house builders have gone up by an average of 500 per cent. Meanwhile the ratio of average house prices to average earnings has more than doubled since 1998, topping 10 times in London.

Yes, there are undoubtedly some NHS sites where better use could be made of the land. What we should be looking at is how we could bring forward some form of redevelopment process funded by the NHS so it could later derive any profit/revenue accruing from such an initiative.

This would be a far more sensible approach to making a long-term contribution to rising NHS costs than going for a short-term gain which:

• Is inevitably used to plug a crisis funding gap.

• Results in no ongoing revenue to the NHS.

• Only serves to enrich property company directors and their shareholders.

PETER LYONS
Hartland Road, NW1

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