WHEN an underused and crumbling Hornsey Central Hospital closed down in 2000, residents were promised a new medical facility in its place.

Nine years on, and amid much controversy, Hornsey Central Neighbourhood Centre, in Park Road, is just months away from opening its doors.

Set to house its first GP practices in July, with other services phased in after that, the three-storey building spanning 4,500 sq metres, will be a one-stop-shop for health and social care services.

The £12.75 million development is funded by Haringey Teaching Primary Care Trust (TPCT), the Department of Health’s community hospital fund and Elevate, a private equity company working with the NHS to develop community-based services.

Elevate made an initial investment of £10m and has leased the building for the next 20 years, taking responsibility for its maintenance.

It will encourage businesses in the private sector to invest in health services and allow them to bid for contracts.

Haringey TPCT claims the centre will improve the health and quality of life of those living in the west of Haringey. James Slater, its director of performance and primary care, said: “Not only will the centre offer a high quality resource, it will also give patients and staff a more pleasant environment with improved facilities.”

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone, who has been campaigning for replacement facilities, said: "This is a fantastic for the community and I have no doubt people will be fighting to come here.

"Finally, the people have a health facility to be proud of."

The MP was also delighted the war memorial chapel had been preserved.

But critics believe the partnership will lead to privatisation of health services by the back door and argue patients will suffer as a result.

Karen Jennings, Labour parliamentary candidate for Hornsey and Wood Green, who is also head of health at Unison union, said: “It is a wonderful building and patients will enjoy going there.

“But we do not yet know what model the trust is going to adopt for staff. There will be a consultation and I would urge all workers to back any model which keeps them in the employment of the NHS.”

The centre will house at least two GP surgeries. Queenswood Practice, of Clocktower Medical Centre, in Hornsey Park Road, and Dr Henderson and Partners, based at Crouch End Medical Centre, in Middle Lane, are consulting over a proposed move to the centre. The two practices have a combined 15,000 patients.

Patients could also have blood tests, minor surgery, ultrasounds and physiotherapy carried out at the centre.

Also on-site will be pharmacies and a specialist dementia care centre and more drop-in services for sexual health and family planning, more appointments, and longer opening hours will be offered.

Hornsey Central is the first of four planned neighbourhood health centres in Haringey.