— Onkar Sahota (@DrOnkarSahota) September 1, 2014
The local Labour party was keeping up its mendacious NHS campaign yesterday by staging the delivery of a letter to Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. They haven’t published their letter and much more importantly they refuse to say what they would do if they were in charge.
The two A&E closures that come into force on 10th September will be a worry for people but I suspect that the NHS will navigate around them safely. It is after all the NHS’s own plan and they will have to pay the legal bills if things go wrong. The original plan was that four A&Es should close to bring the area into line with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine’s guidance that sustainable A&Es require a catchment area of 500,000. It is quite right that Conservative Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt ordered that Ealing and Charing Cross A&Es should remain in some form. For all the noise coming out of the local Labour crowd on this subject the only actor in this drama who has done anything for us is Hunt. The courts said the consultation was sound and turned down the council’s judicial review request. The Independent Reconfiguration Panel said that the whole programme was sound.
Bell, Sahota and the rest of the Labour crowd know they are being venal. They know that this programme is the local roll out of Labour’s own £20 billion Nicholson Challenge programme kicked off by Andy Burnham in 2009. They know it wouldn’t have been any different under a Labour government. This programme was on page 4:3 of their 2010 manifesto.
Indeed it might have been worse under Labour. Whatever you think of the Tories they have honoured their pledge to maintain NHS spending in real terms (as even Alistair Darling kept repeating in the recent Scottish debate). Labour made no such pledge and it is unlikely a Labour government would have been able to increase health spending.
Local Labour types have been painfully careful not to make any promises on the NHS. It is only 8 months to go before a general election when Labour might win power. Ed Balls has said there will be no new NHS cash from increased National Insurance or a new social care charge on death. The current programme will most likely roll on in its current form whatever government comes in in 2015. No government is going to find £20 billion (a year!) to undo Nicholson.
Local Labour politicians think they can blame their own policy on the Tories and get away with not making any promises of their own. Maybe they are right.
To repeat myself the only person who has done anything for Ealing so far is Jeremy Hunt who ordered that only two A&Es would close of 10th September not four. Labour sullenly refuses to make any promises.