Isle of Dogs residents will submit a petition to Tower Hamlets Council on Wednesday 18th January as they attempt to regain local control of the Island Health Trust, the landlord of Island Health, their local GP surgery. The Health Centre can no longer afford to use the first floor of their premises due to increased service charges by Island Health Trust.
It has emerged that the Chair of the Trust, Suzanne Goodband, has been paid £179,176 for “consultancy services relating to charity development, strategy implementation and property development” by the Island Health Trust through companies of which she is the sole shareholder.
Residents say that the Trust no longer has any local trustees and that over a million pounds in cash reserves accumulated over several years have not been used to support the provision of better health care in the area.
Health through work
In response Island Health Trust say that they have now adopted a strategy that will create a property management social enterprise to provide local residents with jobs and so benefit their health in that way.
The Trust owns the freehold of the land on which the Health Centre is sited and the adjoining land extending to the East Ferry Road. This freehold however, is subject to a lease to ASDA stores expiring on 15 July 2017.
In turn ASDA sub-lease back to the trust that part of the land on which the buildings and car park are sited. This sub-lease exprise on 14 July 2107.
Health Centre forced to vacate entire floor of building
Despite having cash reserves the Island Health Trust is asking Island Health to pay service charges so high that it has been forced to vacate the first floor of the Health Centre.
“We have been worried for some time about the increasingly commercial approach that our landlord has been taking with us , their lack of local community involvement, and what might happen to the surgery in the future,” said Dr Jo Richardson, a GP at Island Health in a statement to LW.
“Resources for everyone working in general practice are very tight currently and we had no choice but to move to the ground floor and give up the first floor in order to save on large service charge costs. All the staff at Island Health were shocked to be told recently about the amount that the charity has paid to its Chair. It is also disappointing that so little of the charity’s considerable funds are being spent on local health care”.
The petition is being presented by local residents including Buddy Penn, a former local trustee of Island Health Trust, and long-standing resident on the Island. In a statement issued by the petitioners Buddy said:
“I was born on the Isle of Dogs and I’m an ex-Trustee of Island Health. I am concerned that some services are being discontinued and that the Doctors are unable to expand or offer new services, which are vital to the Surgery and patients.
Over the years Island Health Centre has always shown improvement but now has started to downsize, which I never experienced during the 22 years I served as a Trustee. As a patient, I’m worried about the future of the Practice.”
Island Health Centre came about through a campaign by local people in the 1980s and was funded through a mixture of loan finance and grants from the London Docklands Development Corporation, NHS and Tower Hamlets Council; the centre and its land are public assets.
For the first 25 years of its life the Trust was managed by local Trustees. This changed on 1 April 2016 when the Chair appointed a new board, made up of people with no local connection. The petition calls for Island Health Trust to appoint a local Chair and local Trustees who understand the needs of the local community.
Island Health Trust is the landlord of the Island Health GP practice which is situated opposite the petrol station on the large ASDA site on the Isle of Dogs.
The ASDA site was sold to a consortium led by Dubai-based Arzan Wealth in 2014 for redevelopment.
It is not known how much the ASDA site is worth but due to its location adjacent to Canary Wharf it is regarded as prime business real estate.
(Contrary to popular belief the ASDA store on the Isle of Dogs is not closing down, according to an ASDA spokeperson.)
Neither Arzan Wealth or any of its associated companies has any connection with Ms. Goodband or Island Health Trust.
As with many not for profit organisations Island Health Trust is registered both as a Ltd company (Company no. 6780453) and as a charity (Charity no. 1127466).
Unusually for a charity whose primary objective is “to promote the provision of primary health care in any manner which is deemed by law to be charitable” the interests of some of its non-executive directors are more related to finance and investment.
- Israeli Barak Maoz describes himself as ‘Experienced CEO, chairman and board director, turnaround leader, mentor, public and private markets financier and investor in technology companies in the USA, UK, Israel and Europe’.
- Swede Ruth Brännvall is Co-founder and CEO of the Impact Invest Scandinavia which provides investment services to private impact investors, institutional investors and growth-stage social ventures seeking capital and is also currently acting CEO of Ignitia (Sweden/West Africa).
- Saadia Mujeeb describes herself as Head, EMEA & Asia – Hedge Fund Risk Management Royal Bank of Scotland , Steering Committee Member at PRMIA.
Between 2010 and 2015 Island Health Trust accumulated cash reserves of £1.3m and its main sources of income are the rent paid by the NHS and the service charges paid by the doctors.
Patient at the surgery and local Ward Councillor, Candida Ronald says:
“The top floor of our health centre is now unoccupied because the service charges are so high. How can this possibly be helping to improve health outcomes for residents in the area? I do not believe that this would have happened if the Trust were still locally run.
I’m also very concerned about the accumulated cash reserves of £1.3 million and what the Trustees plan to do with this money. I believe these reserves should be used to support health services at the centre.”
Island Health Trust Accounts
Full accounts for Island Health Trust the Ltd company made up to 31 March 2016 were filed at Companies House on 12 Jan 2017 and extracts are given below.
In ‘Our aims and objectives’ (page 2) a paragraph is entited ‘Ensuring our work delivers our aims’ which states that: “We review our aims, objectives and activities on a regular bais but this year we undertaken [sic] a much more thorough strategic review of the charity, and invested some of our reserves to research and develop a new strategy for the charity.”
“This resulted from a combination of aiming to unlock the best return on our assets for the populations of Tower Hamlets and Newham, our desire to realise commercial opportunities, tackle performance challenges, and deliver trustee ambitions regarding IHT’s effectiveness. It resulted in us identifying a need for additional skills on the Board.”
The accounts go on to describe how this ‘strategic review’ led to the appointment of the new trustees on 1st April 2016. Then (page 6) the accounts talk of ‘analysing the assets at the charity’s disposal’ and that the trustees have ‘identified an opportunity to leverage those in a way that makes future IHT initiatives more financially sustainable and ultimately more effective’ and that the trustees intend to ‘test, consult and hopefully implement the stratgey in 2016/17’ which will be achieved by unlocking ‘additional funding sources whereby IHT is not solely dependent on its current funding source as a commercial landlord’.
The accounts document then describes ‘a series of failures in securing the right personnel’ which led the Board to appoint ‘Suzanne Goodband Interim Solutions Ltd to undertake this strategy and futures work.’
The filed accounts states that this was the only alternative as the only other options were ‘either in hiring a more expensive team or reduced efficiency and effectiveness during the mobilisation phase of the programme’. Luckily there was a ‘robust, audited, decision making process throughout’ and a sub-committee of the board was formed to oversee this process and presumably authorise payment.
At the very end of the accounts (page 17) can be found this.
Notes to the Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 March 2016
15. Related party transactions
A company in which S. Goodband, a trustee is the sole director Suzanne Goodband Interim Solutions Limited [SGIS] (registered company number 07191904) invoiced the charity £179,176 for consultancy services relating to charity development, strategy implementation and property development during the year. Of the SGIS fees, £15,423 was expenses associated with the consulting contract.
The shares in SGIS are wholly owned by SGBS [Suzanne Goodband Board Solutions Ltd], a company in which Ms S Goodband owns 100% of the issue share capital of [sic] and is the sole director.
SGIS also paid all of the expenses associated with S. Goodband trustee work.
Island Health Trust response
LW spoke to Robert Pontin, a spokesperson for Ms. Goodband who gave us the Island Health Trust perspective on all of the above.
Healthy residents through property development
He stated that “the Trust uses the World Health Organisation (WHO) model of health and the new strategy of IHT is to bring new social enterprises into the Borough” as being employed is a key part of being healthy and that “creating a property management social enterprise provides local residents with jobs” and that Island Health will not suffer from this change but will be better.
With regard to the £179,176 for ‘consultancy services relating to charity development, strategy implementation and property development’ Mr Pontin pointed out that Ms. Goodband had been Chair of IHT since 2009 and that the payment was for the executive services provided by Ms. Goodband.
He also stated that this was the first payment of any kind received by Ms. Goodband from IHT and that she was appointed Interim Program Director after three failed recruitment processes. Additionally the payment had been authorised by a board sub-committee of IHT of ‘non-conflicted trustees’ and that payment of such a sum was in line with the projected additional income Ms. Goodband would generate of between £5m and £7.5m in 2019.
In fact this is not the first payment to Ms. Goodband’s companies, the Companies House return 31 March 2015 shows a payment of £7,219 as can be seen below.
At the time of publishing Mr Pontin had not provided LW with details of the board sub-committee. LW will publish these details when we get them.
Not a public asset
Mr Pontin also emphasised that whatever future deals IHT undertakes “all money released by land [deals] will go back into the charity” and reiterated the firm view of IHT that it was being treated by residents and councillors alike as a public asset, not a charity.
Crisis and issue management
Mr Pontin is an Associate Director at Chelgate Limited, a PR company that is recognised for its particular expertise in issues and crisis management which has Chelgate assisted Shell Oil Company with its Brent Spa and Nigeria (Ken Saro-Wiwa) issues, and Mitsubishi Corporation with environmental issues, including deforestation.
Chelgate also runs Planning Consultation, its internet platform for community consultation which states on its homepage that it “provides a more effective way for developers and planners to engage with stakeholders and consult the communities surrounding a proposed development or planning application.”
The Island Health petition will be submitted to Tower Hamlets Council tonight at 7pm. Venue is the Council Chamber, 1st Floor, Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG.
For more information
- SUZANNE GOODBAND BOARD SOLUTIONS LIMITED (SGBS) (Companies House)
- SUZANNE GOODBAND INTERIM SOLUTIONS LIMITED (SGIS) (Companies House)
SUZANNE GOODBAND PROPERTY SOLUTIONS LTD (Companies House)
- Island Health Trust (Charity Commission)
- Island Health (Health Centre)
- Chelgate Limited
- Chelgate (Wikipedia)
- Planning Consultation