I have only just seen this letter in the Gazette from Labourâ€™s Dr Onkar Sahota, their candidate for the Ealing & Hillingdon GLA seat. It didnâ€™t make it into the Ealing & Acton version that comes through my door which maybe reflects the Gazetteâ€™s calculations about the attractiveness of this candidate outside Southall.
If Sahota was some journeyman, hack councillor he might be forgiven for completely twisting the facts around the currently proposed re-structuring of health services in our area. But he isnâ€™t. He is a doctor. It is his colleagues who are proposing this re-structuring. It is â€œclinically ledâ€. I donâ€™t think he is helping his patients in the long term by slagging off his clinical colleagues on the other side of the purchaser-provider divide.
Sahota really starts lying when he talks about â€œTory cutsâ€. The NHS is one area where the Coalition are committed to not cutting. Increasing NHS spending in real terms is spelt in the Coalition Agreement:
The parties agree that funding for the NHS should increase in real terms in each year of the Parliament, while recognising the impact this decision would have on other departments.
The Â£20 billion of cuts that Sahota is alluding to and the equally mendacious Southall MP, Virendra Sharma, has specifically referred to are no such thing. They are savings. The distinction is important. The Â£20 billion is to be re-invested in NHS services. This whole exercise is the so-called Nicholson Challenge. It pre-dates the Coalition. It is an attempt to make the NHS more efficient so that it can do more for the same amount of money in real terms. Note â€“ not more for less. Just to stand still the NHS has to run much faster.
I am open minded about what local clinicians propose for local services. They have to make it work. I would like to see Ealing Hospital being efficiently used to provide services for local people. I am glad to see clinicians at the forefront of designing future health services here in Ealing.
Sahota is lying when he talks about cuts. He knows the difference. If he wants to call this exercise cuts he needs to call them Labour cuts because they were set in train under Labour. People expect more of doctors.