The Save Lewisham Hospital campaign has posted questions for all candidates in the up-coming Parliamentary by-election.  Here is my response.

1. Can you tell us anything you have done to save the NHS, in Lewisham or in your local area and nationally.

It was campaigning for the NHS that first brought me in to politics. I worked in the health service for several years and was active in Unison, helping members with employment law issues. As secretary of the South London branch of Keep Our NHS Public, I was heavily involved in campaigning to Save Lewisham Hospital in 2013.

2. What do you intend to do to protect Lewisham Hospital and our community services if elected to Parliament?

One of my absolute priorities is to make sure that the NHS works for local people, as well as the entire public sector. For Britain campaigns for accountability from hospital chief executives, and we want full transparency of how Lewisham Hospital’s money is being spent; it must be spent on patients, not bureaucracy. We will fight so that public sector waste and inefficiency is brought under control and our core services are protected.

3. Do you think there are particular problems facing women and BAME communities as patients in Lewisham, and also as NHS staff in Lewisham and elsewhere, where women and people from BAME communities form a very large part of the total workforce? What do you intend to do about these issues?

All people are having problems obtaining decent services, because the services are not being run efficiently – that is where the problem is, and that is what we need to fix. All local people should be able to rely on a public sector and an NHS that works. All employees must be supported, paid enough to live on (not just survive), and senior managment accountable for their decisions. This is how we will bring change and save the NHS.

4. The campaign has campaigned successfully on the issue of children’s and young people’s mental health; the elderly population in Lewisham is growing significantly. What are your views on developing social care and supporting mental health services.

Mental health is a vital but often over-looked part of our overall health. For Britain is committed to greater funds for mental health and services for the elderly. Protection of children is at the very heart of our work, and this is why we want an end to the blind eye that is so often turned to terrible abuses of children in the name of religion or culture. This must stop. All children, regardless of race or religion, must have the equal protection of the law and social services – who must be fully staffed and funded as priority.

5. The NHS is rapidly being privatized. What are your views on restoring a publicly funded and run NHS i.e. getting rid of internal markets and privatization of the NHS. How do you think the NHS should be funded.

The NHS should be funded by a national insurance as it is now. The problems of the health service do not stem from this. The problem is the market that was introduced by the Labour Party. Which brought private money and giant corporations in to the NHS to make profits from public money. Labour also saddled hospitals with massive debts thanks to PFI – Labour has spectacularly failed the NHS, time and again. The NHS should be publicly funded, publicly run, and publicly accountable.