Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'll Make Sure Londoners Get Chance to Save Their Local A&E; New Health Secretary's Pledge as He Warns of Tough Spending Decisions

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'll Make Sure Londoners Get Chance to Save Their Local A&E; New Health Secretary's Pledge as He Warns of Tough Spending Decisions

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

GPs and the public will be able to save casualty and maternity departments in London under a radical overhaul of health services in London.

Andrew Lansley, the new Health Secretary, gave the guarantee after putting a halt to Labour's health reforms. But family doctors, in consultation with patients, town halls and local health bosses, will themselves have to take tough decisions on NHS spending -- which could include downgrading some services. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Mr Lansley: Urged doctors and patients in the capital to "leapfrog" the rest of Britain and radically improve healthcare.

Warned that hospitals face efficiency savings of up to five per cent a year, with an axe taken to bureaucracy.

Rejected NHS London's strategic health plan as flawed, and put a stop to signing new contracts for polyclinics.

Admitted doctors and nurses could see job cuts, but said opportunities in other specialisms would emerge.

While the walls of his office overlooking Whitehall are still bare, Mr Lansley, a former civil servant, has wasted no time in blocking changes under NHS London's strategic health plan.

"London has an opportunity now to leapfrog the rest of the country," he said. "Because of the nature of the problem in London, the answer is not to slow reform down, it's to be faster."

His NHS vision has three key principles: that it be designed around patient need; that GPs and clinical experts take more responsibility for resources; and that a greater focus is placed on outcomes.

"London is the sort of place that I think would respond extremely well to patients having opportunity to exercise more choice," he added.

During the election, rows erupted over the possible loss of A&E departments at several hospitals, including Kingston and The Whittington. …

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