Labour shadow health secretary urged to prioritise GP investment

Labour's new shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander should make investment in general practice a policy priority, a top GP who campaigned with her to prevent cuts to Lewisham Hospital has urged.

Heidi Alexander: Labour shadow health secretary
Heidi Alexander: Labour shadow health secretary

Vice president of the Labour party affiliated Socialist Health Association (SHA) Dr Brian Fisher called on Heidi Alexander to make new investment her top priority for primary care. 

Dr Fisher, a GP from Lewisham where Ms Alexander's constituency is, said he was pleased by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour party leader and ‘excited’ that Ms Alexander had been appointed to health.

‘She has been extremely supportive of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign,' said Dr Fisher, who helped lead the successful campaign against government plans to downgrade services at the hospital. ‘She's been out on the streets campaigning with us. So I think she is very solid, very thoughtful. I'm very excited about her being shadow health secretary.’

How Heidi Alexander reacted to her appointment:

Ms Alexander was first elected MP for Lewisham East in 2010 and was re-elected in May with a 12.6% increase in her vote share.

Formerly Ms Alexander served as shadow London minister and parliamentary private secretary to shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh, and as an opposition whip.

Before being elected to parliament she was a full-time deputy mayor of Lewisham and a parliamentary researcher for Joan Ruddock MP.

End of life care

Ms Alexander chairs the all party group on end of life choice. The 40-year-old Swindon-born MP supported her predecessor Andy Burnham in the leadership campaign and has voted consistently in line with party policy on the NHS, opposing the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

Dr Fisher, a member of the national executive of the NHS Alliance, said he was optimistic about the new left-wing Labour leader’s opposition to ‘damaging’ austerity and privatisation.

The GP said much of the health policy inherited by Ms Alexander from Andy Burnham could fit into the new leadership’s agenda including the creation of a health and social care service. 

Dr Fisher said: ‘If the commitment Andy Burnham gave to repeal the Health and Social Care Act is continued that liberates all sorts of possibilities, because it means we don't have to worry about the private sector coming in.’

‘The integration the vanguards are exploring is useful and interesting and should in general be supported’, Dr Fisher added. ’The worry I have is that all these mini changes in structure are huge opportunities for privatisations. And I think they are shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. The NHS is under enormous threats from this government and deciding on whether you have an accountable care organisation is a small part of the solution. We are looking for something bigger.’

Photo: The Climate Coalition/Flickr

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