A Labour campaign against NHS cuts in London has been condemned as “opportunism” by a leading Conservative member of the London Assembly.
Shadow Shadow Health Secretary John Healey and Labour’s 2012 Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone today launched a new campaign against what they call “the Conservative-led government’s cuts to the NHS in London”.
The pair have called on Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to “protect the NHS” in line with election promises.
Healey said the coalition’s plans to transfer greater control of the NHS budget to GPs “threatens the NHS in London and across the country” while Mr Livingstone says “the future of health services” is major concern expressed during his campaign visits around the capital.
The former Mayor said he would be “supporting local campaigns against threats to health services across the capital and speaking up for the incredible contribution that the NHS makes to the lives of millions of Londoners.”
Livingstone, who is hoping voters will associate his successor with the coalition’s cuts next May, highlighted the planned closure the Accident and Emergency unit at King George Hospital in Redbridge.
Labour are hoping to contrast Boris Johnson’s 2008 manifesto commitment to “stand up against local hospital closures” with his refusal to join a campaign against the closure.
In February Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, asked Mayor Johnson if he would “agree to make a representation to Government for maintaining this unit.”
The Mayor declined to do so noting he was “not accountable for such reconfiguration decisions” adding that “at this point, I don’t believe that the intervention which you are proposing would be appropriate.”
However Mr Johnson said he had “highlighted the importance of all Londoners having access to a good quality health system” in his Health Inequality Strategy.
Asked in February 2010 about proposals to close the unit, the Mayor told Labour Assembly Member John Biggs: “The question of King George Hospital’s A&E department is the subject of public consultation and I would not want to pre-empt the findings of this consultation exercise.”
City Hall Tory leader Roger Evans, who has tabled a question on the Redbridge closure at this week’s Mayor’s Question Time, said: “Labour have a nerve quoting this particular case as the A&E closure was proposed whilst they were in government and they refused to reconsider their plans despite local protests which included Labour politicians.”
Evans added: “It absolutely stinks of opportunism and is unhelpful to our local campaign which has been solidly cross party.”