CANDIDATES in today’s general election have entered into a row over a hospital which remains half-empty almost five years after being built.
Finchley Memorial Hospital, on Granville Road, is still half-empty due to a disagreement over rent and running costs between different departments within the NHS - in a situation widely described as “scandalous.”
Labour candidate for Finchley and Golders Green Jeremy Newmark accused his Conservative rival Mike Freer of failing in his campaigns as an MP to get the hospital fully used and to have a permanent breast screening unit set up there.
Mr Newmark said Labour would make funding available to bring the hospital into full use. He said: “Two brand new GP suites with a capacity for nearly 20,000 patients have been empty for five years.
“The John Adams rehabilitation ward with 30 beds for people recovering from hospital treatment has never been used – even though it’s exactly the kind of ward that should be taking pressure off overcrowded acute hospitals.”
The situation is said to be costing Barnet’s Clinical Commissioning Group more than £1.5million a year in “income forgone” and rent for the unused space at the £28 million hospital opened in September 2012.
But Mr Freer highlighted the previous Labour government’s Private Funding Initiative (PFI), through which public projects were funded with private money and which, he said, had saddled hospitals up and down the country with “ruinous rents”.
He said: “It is only through persistence and tenacity and working with the NHS that Finchley Memorial should soon have a permanent breast screening unit and be fully occupied.
“If Labour still have the magic money tree they seem to think exists, perhaps they could share its location.”
Green Party candidate for Finchley and Golders Green Adele Ward said that her party would make “an immediate cash injection” to fill the funding gap for the hospital, in Granville Road, and this would be made available using “fair taxation”, including tax on alcohol and cigarettes.
Liberal Democrat candidate Jonathan Davies said: “The Liberal Democrats’ extra £6 billion for the health service should enable community health services to be provided at Finchley Memorial Hospital.”
UKIP candidate Andrew Price was contacted for his opinion but did not respond.