I was wrong to praise David Cameron on alcohol – he has failed the public health agenda

Binge Drinking
(Photo credit: Mark Turner)

In February last year, I wrote a blog piece on this website praising the prime Minister for raising the issue of binge drinking and at the time, it was looking like David Cameron would take some strong action on the issue – LINK.

The problems with street drinking, and especially in this current amazing weather, are persisting in Neasden. I feel a minimum pricing policy would deter people from drinking so much. We have a dispersal zone in place which should be helping tackle the impact of street drinking and it is illegal anyway. However, there is a lack of police presence and patrolling in the area because of successive years of police cuts – LINK.

In addition to the failure to introduce plain package cigarettes, it looks like the Tory Liberals will also not be introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. In addition, research published in the British Medical Journey yesterday showed that the number of deaths among women born in the 1970s has “disproportionately increased” since the mid-2000s – LINK.

The Government needs to act on the alcohol health warnings that are screaming out at everyone.

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Brent GP List Validation Excercise

NHS Brent were present at a Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting which I attended at Brent Town Hall last week. Many may have read in the local press about a recent process that NHS Brent undertook to validate the names which they deemed to be ‘inactive’ and take out names that did not respond to letters from them.

Brent has a fluid population and it may well be that the NHS is spending money on patients that no longer live in Brent. This is something the NHS cannot afford given the cuts that it is being forced to make by the Coalition Government.

I asked a question to NHS Brent on the practicals… ie. if I felt ill tomorrow and wanted to see my GP and found out my name had been struck off their list, what would happen. I was reassured that it will be extremely simple for me to simply get treated and re-register with my GP.

At the beginning of this meeting, the context of these changes was introduced where it was mentioned that the NHS in Brent has to carry out its duties with fewer resources. So secondly, I asked whether this context had changed given the Prime Minister’s announcement last week following the Government’s ‘listening excercise’, to which the answer was simply NO.

Chief Executive and Director’s Pay

Many point to the fact that some of these are paid higher than the Prime Minister and that pay for those in high positions at the Council should be reduced given the cuts that the Council has to make. I personally agree with this.

However, when people have signed contracts this is difficult to achieve. To make such changes, the Council would face legal costs which would end up costing the Council more.

Nonetheless, Brent Labour has made sure that newly appointed Director’s pay is more fairer. In addition, there is now a female Director in the Education brief which is one of the highest at the Council – thereby dampening the male dominance in the top roles at the Council.

PM welcomes employers’ support at job summit

Speaking at a job summit in Birmingham, Gordon Brown said more than 150 employers including the Royal Mail, Microsoft, Pfizer, Phones4U, Centrica and Morrisons will provide apprenticeships, work or training for young people.

source: 10 Downing Street

 

Gordon Brown’s Message to #WeLoveTheNHS Campaign

I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported the #welovethenhs campaign.

I have been profoundly moved by the enormous groundswell of support for the NHS in the last few days.  A genuinely National Health Service – introduced by a Labour government in the teeth of opposition from the Conservatives and the medical establishment – is one of our nation’s finest achievements.

So it is understandable that the Conservative leadership have tried to distance themselves from those in Tory ranks who criticise the NHS.

But the reason why their comments have generated so much anger is that they spoke to a larger truth.

That truth is that there are two Tory faces on the NHS.  Behind all the recent talk of commitment, the party has not truly been reformed.  Despite all their talk of reform, the Conservatives still put special interests before patients’ interests.

The Conservatives say they are committed to the NHS but they would scrap our guarantees for patients – including the guarantee to see a specialist within 2 weeks if your GP suspects you may have cancer.

The Conservatives say they are committed to the NHS but they would scrap our agreement with the GPs that means nearly three quarters of practices now offer extended opening hours.

The Conservatives say they are committed to the NHS but they would let hospitals mortgage their own assets – even though they admit this brings the risk of financial failure.

I will not stand by and see the NHS and its brilliant staff denigrated and undermined, whether that’s by the right wing in the United States or by their friends in the British Conservative Party.

This is not just a debate for this week. It is central to everything we believe in and care about. And I am determined to take the fight to the Tories, not just today, but in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank you for backing our NHS.

Gordon Brown