22 FEBRUARY 1952, Page 17

The First Health Centre

Sm,—May I refer to the article by Dr. Stephen Taylor, in your issue of February 8th, on the Harlow health centre ? We know so little about the problems of group practice that the centres at Corby, Harlow, Manchester and Woodberry Down will each in their different way teach us something. Dr. Stephen Taylor is not accurate when he refers to the London County Council Woodberry Down health centre as " running into hundreds of thousands of pounds." The actual contract price for this comprehensive health centre was £162,978, and equip- ment will cost another £15,000. Of this the section providing for six general practitioners and such specialist services as they will need will cost about £53,000; its equipment will cost £4,600, and that portion of the site some £3,000—in all £60,600.

Woodberry Down consists of a planned community, where some 7,000 inhabitants of new houses and flats will have schools, shopping centres, an old people's hOme and a health centre as an.integral part of

the community. The health centre will serve the estate and the surround- ing area. The whole scheme was planned before the war was over. It is a centre where group practice can be combined with personal and preventive medical services which the National Health Service Act envisaged. It may be a pattern for the future, or it may not; only experience can teach us. What is important about Woodberry Down is that it is a health centre on the lines envisaged by the National Health Service Act, offering a 24-hour service daily and Many amenities which are not available at Harlow. All these centres, including Woodberry Down, will offer us valuable lessons for the future. It would be a pity if the lessons to be learnt were disturbed by erroneous ideas about