A&E Crisis

Meeting: 
MQT on 2016-01-20
Session date: 
January 20, 2016
Reference: 
2016/0167
Question By: 
Onkar Sahota
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

Have you now read the Independent Health Commission report by Mr Mansfield QC and what steps are you taking to ensure equity to health services in North West London?

Answer

Answer for A&E Crisis

Answer for A&E Crisis

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thank you very much, Onkar.  Listen, I have not read all of Michael Mansfield’s [Michael Mansfield QC, Chair, Independent Healthcare Commission for North West London] report.  In fact, I have really just been given a brief account of what it says.

Yes, we all want A&Es in London to be doing better and we all want to see reforms.  I am not necessarily wholly convinced that a report commissioned by the Labour boroughs by Michael Mansfield QC, who is the last self‑professed Trotskyist in this country, is necessarily going to be a monument of impartiality.  The medical directors of the hospitals concerned take a very different view.  They say that there is a very high level of clinical support for the programmes across North West London and that they think the changes will save many lives.  That is the key thing for me.  We cannot leave things as they are.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Look, the answer you gave, Mr Mayor, is that you have not read the report.  The fact that it was commissioned by Labour councils does not diminish the relevance of it.  Just because the people of those boroughs trusted Labour councils to represent them should not be counted against them ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.  I am not certain of the impartiality of Michael Mansfield; that is all.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  ‑‑ just like I do not hold it against people for trusting you as Mayor.  I do not think being commissioned by five Labour councils diminishes the relevance of the report at all when you look at the evidence.

The evidence is this, Mr Mayor.  I really come at this question from an inequalities point of view.  You have a responsibility to reduce inequalities and make sure there is access to good healthcare across London.  The London North West Healthcare NHS Trust performs the worst in A&E in the country, worse than all other A&Es.  The nurse vacancy rate across London is 17% and in North West London it is 28%.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, certainly.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  There are inequalities here.  There are clear data marks that show that since the closure of two A&Es in Hammersmith and Charing Cross things have gotten worse.  Of course the people who put forward the plans will say that it is working.  Turkeys never vote for Christmas.

The question I am asking is: what have you done, as the Mayor of London, to look at the inequalities that are taking place and to address them?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Back to the impartiality of the report, obviously, I do not necessarily impugn the good intentions of Labour boroughs.  I happen to be familiar with a lot of the work of Michael Mansfield QC over many years and he does not strike me as being a man of the centre, shall we say.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  He was not the only commissioner.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Can we get an answer to the question, Mr Mayor, please?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  On what we have done and on health inequalities in London, you will be familiar with the basic data, which is that life expectancy has massively increased in this city.  People are living longer.  The fascinating thing ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Health and life inequalities have increased.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, that is not true.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Yes, they have.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Assembly Member, listen to the answer, please.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Life expectancy has ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, my question was ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Can I just ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  My question was: what have you done about inequality in North West London?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have reduced inequalities because ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  No, you have not.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have reduced inequalities because what has happened is that the gap in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest in our city has diminished over the last eight years.  All life expectancy has increased very substantially but the gap in life expectancy between the poorest boroughs and the richest boroughs has gone down.  When I became Mayor it was about five-and-a-half years, the gap in life expectancy ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Can I just finish my point?  It is now down to about three-and-a-half years.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Hang on.  You want to answer the question that you want to answer.  Please answer the question that I asked.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have just answered you.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  I do not want you to answer the question that you want to answer.  You get zero marks for that.  I want you to answer the question that I have asked you, which is: what have you done to look at the inequalities in the north of London?  What have you done about it and have you looked at it independently yourself?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  As I have just told you ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  The answer is no, you have not.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  By the most important measure that you could devise, health inequalities in London have come down over this mayoralty.  We have done a great deal to help Londoners in all sorts of ways but chiefly, of course, helping to make sure that people live longer and in better health by championing their needs through their rights to benefits, making sure they know that they can heat their homes, giving them free travel and making sure that they are part of a dynamic and growing economy.  That is the fundamental reason why you are seeing substantial increases in life expectancy.

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Dr Sahota, you are right to feel aggrieved.  Your question is specifically about North West London.  If the Mayor has no details about North West London, will he just say that and then offer to provide you that information at a later date?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I have given a general answer about health inequalities in London.  It applies to North West London as much as to anywhere else.  As I have said, I do not happen to think that the report by ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, people ‑ your constituents and my constituents ‑ are getting worse service in North West London and you are doing nothing about it.  That is the bottom line of the answer.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  You have given me a waffling answer to the question that you wanted to answer, not the question that I have asked ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, you ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  ‑‑ and you get zero marks for it.