This weekend I went campaigning with local councillors in Lewisham Town Centre. The sea of red ‘Save Lewisham A&E’ posters in people’s windows are a sign of the strength of feeling in this part of London against a wave of cuts to local services that could have a potentially devastating impact on Londoners’ access to healthcare across the whole city.
Much earlier on in the selection campaign I spoke at a rally in Ealing against hospital closures there. That there is such widespread feeling among all communities across the capital against the downgrading of local services should serve as a wake-up call to the government.
This is fundamentally an issue of trust. Before the General Election David Cameron made it one of his core pledges that there would be no top-down re-organisation of the NHS. Since then, with the Health and Social Care Act, we have had the introduction of GP commissioning and the piecemeal privatisation of frontline services.
It is not just hospitals and A&E departments which face closure. Labour in London is doing excellent work to make the case for a fairer distribution of resources and to oppose needless cutbacks which would leave communities dependent on hospitals, fire stations and police stations that are often too far away to respond quickly and that not routed in the local areas they are meant to serve.
But the government needs to listen. People’s trust and confidence has been betrayed by these cuts: no wonder Londoners are upset with the government.