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MP Jim Fitzpatrick gets Commons debate to expose Island Health Trust’s NHS funding

PUBLISHED: 18:00 14 March 2018

Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick. Picture: Mike Brooke

Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

The controversial Island Health Trust which has sucked in almost £350,000 of public NHS funding while GPs are being priced out of the building is to be debated in Parliament.

Suzanne Goodband... chairs Island Health Trust. Picture sources: Island Health/GoogleSuzanne Goodband... chairs Island Health Trust. Picture sources: Island Health/Google

MP Jim Fitzpatrick has secured a 30-minute Commons Adjournment debate on Monday in which he will attack the Island Health Trust board—which holds £1.3 million in public assets—and especially its chair.

He has publicly called for Suzanne Goldband to resign from the trust over the NHS cash paid to her privately-owned company for “consultancy” fees, currently being investigated by the Charities Commission.

“The debate is about misuse of charitable funds,” the Poplar and Limehouse MP tells tomorrow’s East London Advertiser.

“Money has been taken out that should be providing local health services.

Petition to Tower Hamlets Council handed in by Doris Penn, January 2017, calling for action over Island Health Trust. Picture: Mike BrookePetition to Tower Hamlets Council handed in by Doris Penn, January 2017, calling for action over Island Health Trust. Picture: Mike Brooke

“But the Charities Commission has been on the case more than a year and is dragging its feet. We’re still waiting, four months after it began the investigation in November.”

The Commons move follows Tower Hamlets Council’s unanimous vote more than a year ago condemning the way the trust is being run and the Mayor in January also publicly calling for Ms Goodband to step down.

The MP added: “The same people who have been (handling) the NHS payments continue to access the funds and award questionable payments to the chair, while local GPs are being priced out of parts of the building.”

The NHS funds are paid into Suzanne Goodband Solutions, a privately-owned consultation company whose sole director is listed in Companies House as Suzanne Goodband.

Cllr Peter Golds calls for NHS cash to Island Health Trust to be handed back. Picture: Mike BrookeCllr Peter Golds calls for NHS cash to Island Health Trust to be handed back. Picture: Mike Brooke

The MP is to challenge “the behaviour of those trusted with public money” in the Commons debate and the legality of the payments to Ms Goodband, pointing out that they were authorised by only two of the trustees when the third was absent, with a minimum legal quorum of three to make financial decisions.

The charity, which was given the two-storey premises in East Ferry Road in trust for the Isle of Dogs community by the original Docklands Development Corporation 30 years ago, has already been referred to Tower Hamlets Council’s legal department to “restore local accountability”.

Concerns were first raised by Tory opposition councillors from the Isle of Dogs two years ago, who this week welcomed the Labour MP’s Parliamentary debate.

Opposition group leader Peter Golds told the Advertiser: I hope the Minister in response will indicate government concern at the activities of the chair and the current trustees.”

He is calling for the “consultancy” fees paid to the trust by the NHS to be returned to the public purse.

The paper has requested comment form the trust, but has not yet had a response.

The Charities Commission has been monitoring the Island Health Trust’s governance and financial administration since February last year, with inquiries confirming that a consultancy company “solely owned by a trustee received significant benefits from the charity” for a strategic development project. The Commission was concerns about trustees managing resources “responsibly” and whether the contract with the consultancy company was “properly taken in the best interests of the charity”.

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