North London Labour MPs David Lammy and Jeremy Corbyn and former Islington council leader Catherine West joined more than a dozen campaigners and patients highlighting attacks on the NHS at a public meeting in Archway on 1 November.
They were speaking at the third session of the People’s Inquiry for London’s NHS which is backed by Unite. An independent panel made of experienced healthworkers, public administrators and journalist Polly Toynbee are examining the impact of the Health and Social Care Act and NHS budget cuts on our health services.
Contributors continually expressed concerns over the future of local hospitals including the Whittington, St Anne’s Community Hospital and Chase Farm, where maternity and inpatient paediatric services are due to close on 20 November. The proposed closure of Chase Farm A&E in December is the subject of a judicial review.
“I don’t know where to go to challenge decisions that are now being made,” said Tottenham MP David Lammy. “The landscape of health organisation is very confusing. It’s difficult for me as an MP. God knows what it is like for constituents.”
He registered particular concerns over the closure of mental health crisis centres in Enfield and Haringey. “It is unacceptable that people suffering acute mental disorder and psychotic episodes should have to present themselves in A&E. I can tell you now there will be a terrible tragedy.
“What’s really going on is responsibilities for health being shunted from acute treatment centres to local authorities. The idea of a community based mental health service is a deceit,” said David Lammy.
Islington North MP, Jeremy Corbyn, said, “I am fearful for the future of the NHS. GPs are under enormous pressure and patients are reporting growing difficulties getting appointments and access to healthcare. Instead of sensibly planning how to meet health needs, we have duplication of resources and competition among hospitals,” said Jeremy Corbyn.
Islington councillor, Catherine West, the Labour candidate for the local Hornsey and Wood Green parliamentary seat, concluded, “The only solution is to repeal the Health and Social Care Act. If we don’t, we will see the private sector taking public providers to court on the basis that they are not competitive.”
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• West London: Friday 8 November, 14:00-19:00 Ealing Town Hall, New Broadway, Ealing W5 2BY
• Central London: Friday 15 November, 14:00-16:30 Public Session; 5-7pm, Special closed session for health workers only. Central Hall, Westminster, Storey's Gate London SW1H 9NH
• Central London: Friday 29 November, 14:00-19:00pm Central Hall, Westminster, Storey's Gate London SW1H 9NH
• SE London: Friday 6 December, 14:00-19:00pm Lessoff Auditorium, Lewisham Hospital.
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.