Bethnal Green & Bow MP Rushanara Ali is rallying to save GP surgeries


- Credit: Archant

It’s often said that the NHS is one of Britain’s best-loved institutions. Anyone who has seen the care it provides for our families and friends would agree with this without a second thought. Yet sometimes, our community comes together to remind us just how much local NHS services mean to them.

One such occasion was at a rally last month which saw hundreds of people from east London fighting to save GP surgeries. It started in Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel and gathered force as we marched through Bethnal Green on to London Fields in Hackney. Members of the crowd ranged from older people to children-in-arms, from students new to the area to life-long East Enders who remembered the formation of the NHS after the war. So it was a real privilege to speak at the event which was, in part, a celebration of the 66th birthday of the NHS.

Under this Government, though, the dangerous truth is that the future of our NHS is far from certain. Our Accident and Emergency departments are under huge pressure; more patients are waiting longer on trolleys before being admitted to hospital beds; and fewer people can see a GP within a decent time. Make no mistake: David Cameron’s reforms – which he didn’t mention in his manifesto in 2010 – have made things worse and cost £3 billion.

Some of these reforms threaten the future of some 22 GP surgeries serving people who desperately need them in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham. It’s clear that it’s time to take action. On behalf of local residents, I’ve grilled both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary in Parliament for answers in Parliament, but they have failed to provide them.

That’s why thousands of local residents have signed the petition that I’m planning to deliver to 10 Downing Street with local GPs and residents. It urges the Government to reverse their decision on our GP surgeries.

This is a great opportunity for all members of our community to come together once more. Together, we can once again celebrate our NHS, whilst fighting to save those GP surgeries which we know and trust from this Government’s botched plans. At the rally, I saw the words of the Labour legend Nye Bevan on a banner, which said that our ‘NHS will last as long as there are folks left with faith to fight for it.’ It is good to know that this spirit in very much alive in east London. More from Rushanara Ali.