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.