|Cllr Rachael Saunders with Dr Anna Livingstone
On Wednesday I spoke at a Keep the NHS Public rally alongside local GPs, an ambulance worker, a mental health worker and others, as well as a campaigner from Lewisham. I spoke about the importance of a united coalition to protect our NHS. We stood together against the Tory legislation. Now we have to stand together to protect our local services.
On the 13th February we are launching the Tower Hamlets NHS Pledge. Andy Burnham came to Tower Hamlets in December to launch a consultation on the priorities that local people have for our NHS. On the 13th February I will stand alongside Sam Everington GP, the chair of our clinical commissioning group, to launch our local pledge, setting out the principles we unite on to protect local services.
Do come, sign up below:
With Rushanara Ali, Cllrs Mizan Choudhury, Sirajal Islam, Lesley Pavitt and the team.
I announced today that I will be standing to be the Labour candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
My press statement is below:
“Tower Hamlets has the highest rates of child poverty in the UK but is the borough with the greatest growth potential in London.
When we face such huge challenges but have a community of such extraordinary potential we need a Mayor who will lead for the whole of Tower Hamlets and focus on getting our people into work.
I have a track record of delivering for local people, whether stopping the current Mayor’s cuts of 75% to welfare advice services in my ward, securing a new children’s centre in Mile End East or leading our local fight to protect the NHS. With my professional background in business, charities and the trade union movement I know what it takes to bring people together to get things done.
Our community deserves better than the cronyism and incompetence we’ve had from the Town Hall recently – it’s time to move Tower Hamlets forward.
At health scrutiny committee tonight I called on Barts Health to listen to local people as they make decisions about the future of our acute and community services.
Last year a merger was agreed between three acute trusts – Newham, Whipps Cross and Barts and the London. The new organisation, Barts Health, is making decisions about its future strategy and plans.
This evening I asked questions about plans to reshape services across the merged trust. There are none to share as yet, but we expect some outputs from the new Clinical Academic Groups before long. It seems inevitable that significant change will be proposed now that Barts has to get its finances in order to become a Foundation trust.
This Friday is the deadline for applications to the Barts Health Patient and Public Forum. The commitment is around 5 meetings a year. Click here for more information and get in touch if you’d like to chat it through. It really matters that local people’s voices are heard.
In November I hosted an event with Andy Burnham MP, the Shadow Health Secretary, where we launched a public discussion on the future of the NHS in Tower Hamlets. This event was a part of our campaign to protect the NHS and to do all we can to make the voices of local people heard in decision making.
NHS activists and practitioners came together with local residents to discuss the best ways to ensure that health services in the borough reflect local priorities and needs. We focussed on five key areas based on Labour’s successful NHS pledge. These pledges, to protect NHS founding values, prevent postcode lotteries, guard against longer waiting times, promote collaboration over competition and to put patients before profits formed the core foundations of what residents saw as the most important job for the NHS following the Government’s unpopular reforms.
We are now developing a local NHS Pledge, through which we will make the voices of local people heard. The Pledge will be launched soon.
The NHS is under real strain as a result of the Tories’ top down reorganisation. The NHS pledge is Labour’s bottom line, and we are working with GPs, NHS professionals and local people to defend our services. Defending the status quo isn’t enough though. I am working with Andy Burnham and local government colleagues to develop ideas on how the people of Tower Hamlets, the NHS, local organisations and the council can collaborate to tackle health inequalities and improve our physical, mental and social wellbeing.
The period from now until the beginning of the new financial year in April is a vital time for our NHS, as the new Clinical Commissioning Group gets ready to take on its responsibilities, with less funding available to it than the existing PCT, and Barts Health, the new merged acute trust, makes decisions about how hospital services will be delivered. Local people have told me that they want publicly funded and accountable institutions delivering quality services, with physical and mental health services and social care working together.
To make that happen, we need your support and ideas. Please do get in touch on Cllr.Rachael.Saunders@towerhamlets.gov.uk to keep in touch with the campaign and let me have any feedback, ideas or information.
During last autumn I spent some time talking to various groups of Tower Hamlets Labour members about their own personal values. I had sets of cards with words and took them through some exercises to choose the words that really meant something to them in terms of how they tried to live their own lives.
You can see from this wordle that the people I spoke to believed in public service, integrity, hard work and serving their community. Words like participation, dedication, service and community came through from every participant.
The connection between personal values and their Labour politics is there too. Equality, tolerance, diversity, fairness, optimism – the basis of personal beliefs that lead to political action.
Family, faith, freedom. Values at the core of what motivated our Labour members. Not values or words that we can leave to those on the Right. Freedom came through especially strongly from Bangladeshi participants, faith and family were important to women and men, Christian and Muslim.
Most of the people I was able to speak to were over 25 – it would be interesting to see if a Young Labour group came up with something different.
Honesty, integrity, success – words at the core of our member’s beliefs, part of how they see themselves at their best. That’s something to build from for the future.