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Call for ‘Manchester-style’ NHS powers for London Assembly

A London health chief has called for ‘Manchester-style powers’ over the NHS in London after warning general practice in the capital is ‘in danger of collapse’.

According to London Assembly health spokesperson Dr Onkar Sahota, NHS services in London ‘have been pushed to a cliff edge’ as a result of ‘short-sighted’ Government cost-saving policies.

His warnings come in a report on the state of health and social care in London, calling for budgets to be devolved from Westminster and handed to a new health commissioner for London who would develop health policy alongside the Mayor of London.

The bid comes after news broke last month that Greater Manchester local authorities and CCGs will be granted control over its health and social care budgets in a ground-breaking move.

According to the Critical Condition: London’s NHS report, GPs in the capital are ‘profoundly overstretched’ and ‘the general practice infrastructure in London is in danger of collapse’.

It urged the mayor to call a halt on closures of A&E and maternity units in the capital with current services struggling to cope and ambulance services running at an unsustainable rate.

Dr Sahota said London’s health needs were ‘unique’ compared to other areas for example in that it has ‘fewer smokers, less risk of heart disease and lower cancer rates than the rest of the country’ but on the other hand it has a ‘much younger population, higher rates of childhood obesity, HIV and serious mental illness’.

He added: ‘Devolution of health funding isn’t about creating a postcode lottery – it’s about solving one. Like Manchester we have to accept that we have a unique health reality in the capital. We need a health system which can respond to these local needs and adapt to make London a healthier city.’

Under plans announced for Manchester, currently being discussed by NHS England, CCGs and local authorities, the Treasury would be handing over a joint budget to 10 local authorities and 12 CCGs for providing joint health and care services.

The news comes less than a week after London councils made a bid to take on responsibility for winter urgent care planning, while also reiterating demands to take part in co-commissioning of GP services alongside CCGs.

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