Local GP and Labour politician Onkar Sahota has been writing on the LabourList blog. Typically Dr Sahota is only telling half of the story.
North West London’s Shaping a Healthier Future programme is merely the local roll out of Labour’s £20 billion Nicholson Challenge. Nicholson was kicked off in 2009 by Andy Burnham and aimed to take £20 billion of savings out of existing services to ensure that new services could be provided and new demand met in a post 2008 world. To give itself cover to proceed with this programme Labour included it on page 4:3 of their 2010 manifesto. Go and look. The Coalition had little choice but to continue with it.
Shaping a Healthier Future follows from both Nicholson and Labour’s own Darzi Review. The programme would have happened in the same way if Labour had won in 2010 as the same decision makers would have been working to the same constraints. The reason Ealing hospital is under threat is because the West Middlesex is subject to a 35 year PFI deal signed under a Labour government. 35 years! Sahota fails to mention this key point. He wants to pay for a brand new PFI hospital and keep a tired old building going at the same time but refuses to say where the money will come from.
As Sahota rightly points out only two A&Es have closed not the four originally proposed. That is because Tory Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt demanded that they stay open. The only actor that has mitigated the North West London programme in any way is Jeremy Hunt. Not the courts. Not the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. And Labour refuses to make any promises of mitigation whatsoever.
We are all angry that London North West Hospitals trust has messed up its change programme failing to open its brand new A&E at Northwick Park in time for the closure programme. This is bureaucratic failure not government direction.
Sahota still refers to himself as a GP in spite of sullenly failing to be objective about health issues since he was elected. Poor show.