A new report from Labour London Assembly Health Spokesperson Dr Onkar Sahota has called for London to be given ‘Manchester style powers’ over the NHS in order for the capital to meet its unique health needs. The new report, Critical Condition: London’s NHS, found that with growing strain being placed on London’s GP, A&E and Ambulance services, the capital needs the flexibility to adapt its health service to match the needs of patients.
Amongst his recommendations Dr Sahota calls for London’s NHS and social care budgets to be devolved to the London and for a new Health Commissioner to be appointed to work with the Mayor to coordinate health policy in the capital in a similar way that the Metropolitan Police Service is run.
The report comes only weeks after George Osborne announced that Greater Manchester, an area with just over 2.5 million people, will be given control over health and social care budgets as part of its devolution package. By contrast London, with a population of over 8.6m and many unique health challenges of its own, has no such powers.
The Critical Condition report found that London’s health services have come under increasing pressure over recent years as a result of rapid population growth, A&E department closures and the Government’s reorganisation of health commissioning, all of which have left the capital’s health service fragmented.
Labour’s London Assembly Health Spokesperson Dr Onkar Sahota AM said:
“In London we have unique health needs compared with other areas. We have fewer smokers, less risk of heart disease and lower cancer rates than the rest of the country. On the other hand we have a much younger population, higher rates of childhood obesity, HIV and serious mental illness.
“As with Manchester, London’s different needs should mean different solutions. That’s why we need a new London Health Commissioner with the powers to ensure London’s health and care services work together and meet the unique needs of our population.
“Devolution of health funding isn’t about creating a postcode lottery – it’s about solving one. Like Manchester we have to accept that we have a unique health reality in the capital. We need a health system which can respond to these local needs and adapt to make London a healthier city.”