Don’t tell us not to politicise the NHS

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Several key selection results came in over the weekend. Corbynsceptics added to their recent success in Welsh contests, with Progress activist Mary Wimbury winning in Wrexham. The same wing of the party was delighted by the outcome in Erith and Thamesmead, where Abena Oppong-Asare – rather than Momentum-backed Nadine Houghton – will replace Teresa Pearce. Members in Coventry North West rebelled against what many of them saw as a “stitch up” by picking a previously unknown Londoner rather than the union-backed candidate, a local former postie favoured by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC).

The Labour left made important gains too. Luton South saw Rachel Hopkins picked directly by a selection panel, and the local councillor will go up against incumbent Gavin Shuker. The solid seat of Streatham went to Bell Ribeiro-Addy, who works for Diane Abbott, while Ian Byrne, who works for Dan Carden, narrowly won a fiercely-fought race in Liverpool West Derby that involved two recounts. According to my rolling list, a slight majority of retirement seats that have selected so far have gone to Corbynsceptics, and almost all defection seats so far have been won by candidates from the Labour left.

With Labour selections concluding across the country, campaigning will be ramped up ahead of the election. And where our next MPs from in the party is crucial, but for the following weeks unity is key. MPs such as Dr Paul Williams have reported that the already significant turn outs seen in 2017 are being dwarfed, with campaign launches ballooning in size. Corbynite network Momentum said 350 activists went door-knocking in Chingford and Woodford Green, where Faiza Shaheen is fighting to unseat Iain Duncan Smith, and around 250 joined the activity in key marginal Calder Valley. Many will have used Momentum’s new handy tool MyCampaignMap.com. Today, the organisation is launching ‘Labour Legends’, which will encourage supporters to take at least a full week off work to campaign for Labour.

Jon Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, has been doing the media round this morning. He has been trying to convey the seriousness of what is happening in the NHS right now. I want to pause here to explain what happened over the weekend in my life (if you were wondering why my selection coverage was a bit patchy). My partner’s father, a paranoid schizophrenic, attempted suicide at his home in Essex on Friday. The ambulance, knowing that he had taken around a hundred paracetamol tablets, took over an hour to arrive. He was put in a day unit with little support and nobody watching closely. He walked out of the hospital on Saturday afternoon, soon after our visit, and was later found on the railway tracks. Two suicide attempts in two days.

He was sectioned by police but they left yesterday. Colchester Hospital did not have the staff to watch him overnight, though that support had been promised. He did not abscond again only because my partner’s brother returned to the hospital after we left, and kept watch. We are now waiting to see whether the mental health team, who refused to assess him before he was ‘medically fit’ (his liver function was deteriorating), will undertake the psychiatric assessment he needs. The details of these events are outlined in a thread just tweeted by my partner. These experiences are real, and have been deeply distressing. Any support would be hugely appreciated. This is the state of our NHS under the Tories. Don’t let anyone say we should refrain from ‘politicising’ the NHS. These events have taken place as a result of political decisions, and this crisis could not be more political. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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