This morning the Ealing Labour councillors were out in force in the rain at Ealing Hospital with Ken Livingstone, Andy Burnham, the Labour health spokesman, and Virendra Sharma, MP for the Southall half of the Ealing Southall constituency. They were no doubt taking a photo to go in a last minute leaflet to go out before May 3rd. Labour know that Livingstone is such a weak candidate that they are trying to make Ealing Hospital into the key election issue – we know that this is all they talk about on the doorstep.
Just to the right of Andy Burnham is Onkar Sahota, Labour’s candidate for the Ealing & Hillingdon GLA seat. He is a GP and the person in this group shot most able to influence the future of Ealing Hospital. His decisions about where to send his patients are what will decide the fate of this hospital through the commissioning process.
The NHS is responding to the requirement to reinvest £20 billion of savings into new services by consolidating higher volume services on fewer specialist centres. This process is being driven and controlled by doctors not politicians and certainly not the London mayor. If you want to know who started the process of taking £20 billion out of health service costs so that it could be reinvested in new services, the so-called Nicholson Challenge, then read here. The answer is of course Andy Burnham when he was Labour’s Health Secretary. I don’t hear Livingstone telling us where he can find a few billion Pounds so that he can subsidise hospital services in London that doctors like Sahota don’t want to send their patients to.
I’ll make two predictions about Ealing Hospital. It won’t close before I reach retirement age and it will be dealing with A&E cases for as long as it is open. In the meantime Labour is telling lies about Ealing Hospital. The sad thing is that it will probably help them cement their core vote. Why should Labour care about frightening people if it will get it a few extra votes?