Labour announces strategy to transform cancer care

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

St George's Hospital in neighbouring TootingThe government has launched a new Cancer Strategy which, supported by an investment of £370 million by 2010, will majorly improve existing cancer care. The strategy will build a world-class cancer service, helping to save more lives and ensure patients in Streatham and across the country get the care they deserve.

The NHS has made significant progress on cancer treatment under Labour; from extending screening for breast and bowel cancer to reducing waiting times for referral and treatment for cancer patients.

Labour’s new cancer strategy will do more to prevent cancer, diagnose cancer more quickly and provide even better care. Measures will include further extending breast and bowel cancer screening, investing £200 million to increase radiotherapy capacity and a new HPV vaccine to help reduce cervical cancer. Under these plans those who have, or have had, cancer will be offered free one-to-one care in their homes by a specialist personal nurse.

Speaking about the plans Gordon Brown said: “Instead of arriving at a hospital and hoping to see the nurse or the doctor you had before, that nurse will stay with you. And that nurse would be able to help you at home as well as when you arrive at the hospital. This one-to-one care is how we plan to develop lots of other services in future.”

Chuka Umunna commented: “This new strategy means that patients will have a cancer test within one week of seeing their GP, and could result in 10,000 lives a year being saved, including many right here in Streatham.”

Topping out ceremony at NHS Baldry Gardens

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Above is a video of the recent topping out ceremony at NHS Baldry Gardens, a fantastic new health facility in Streatham.

The £3.86 million primary care centre is located near Streatham Common and will open in the summer, providing a new home to the Drakewood GP practice and offering primary healthcare services including nursing, foot health, therapy and midwifery.

Keith Hill, Labour MP for Streatham took part in the ceremony, along with Chair of NHS Lambeth Caroline Hewitt and Dr Jim Hill, a GP at Drakewood Surgery.

Our local area has also benefitted from new and improved health facilities at the Streatham Hill Group Practice, Streatham Vale Surgery, Whittington Health Centre and Streatham Hill Clinic thanks to Labour government investment.

For more information about NHS Baldry Gardens, visit this page

The Personal Care at Home Bill – dignity and independence for those with the highest care needs

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Chuka visits Aashna House care home in Streatham Vale Many older people and younger people with disabilities want to maintain their ability to live at home as long as possible, so Labour is proposing to extend free personal care at home to 280,000 people with the highest needs.

The Personal Care at Home Bill will invest £670 million to enable them to stay in their homes, adjusting living conditions with new technology and adaptations whilst also protecting the free care already provided.

Under the proposals 130,000 people will be able to gain new skills that help them to maintain their independence. Additionally, 111,000 people who in the past have had to fund their own home care will receive it for free.

In the long run this will save both social care services and the NHS money, and will form the first step towards a new National Care Service.

Chuka Umunna said : “Labour’s Personal Care at Home Bill will make personal care simple, fair and accessible, giving hundreds of thousands of people new dignity and independence.”

“Many elderly people and younger disabled people need help with everyday tasks such as getting in and out of bed, washing and dressing. Too many still have to fund the support they need out of
their own pocket – or do without.”

“And what’s more, many have to give up living at home in order to receive that support. This bill will help put an end to this.”

The Conservatives, who oppose a National Care Service, instead want a private insurance scheme which will require people to pay £8,000 for residential care, without support to stay in their own home. Not only does this underestimate the cost of such care, but it would also exclude those unable to pay and create a perverse incentive for people to leave their homes even where this is unnecessary or inappropriate.

The Conservative policy, which also does nothing for younger disabled people, has been criticised by social care experts.

Chuka continued: “In 1945 it was Labour that created a National Health Service, free at the point of use, improving life in the UK beyond measure. And now we are setting out to create a new National Care Service in the same spirit of dignity and wellbeing for all.”

Labour Achievements: Healthcare

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

In June 2008 the then Health Secretary Alan Johnson opened the new Gracefield Gardens Health Centre in Streatham The creation of a high quality, free and universal healthcare service for everyone in Britain is a great Labour legacy.

Since entering government in 1997, the Labour Party has worked to ensure that the NHS is constantly improving, saving lives and helping communities.

More investment in front Line services

There are now 44,000 more doctors, and 89,000 more nurses than in 1997. Labour has also placed more focus on community services by creating 90 new walk-in health centres, over 650 one-stop primary care centres and furthermore has pledged £750 million for the creation of a new generation of modern, convenient Community Hospitals.

The success of this investment is clear from the fact the in 2007, 33,000 more lives were saved from cardiovascular diseases than in 1996.

More operations and shorter waiting lists

There are now three million more operations carried out each year than in 1997, and double the number of heart operations. The waiting times for operations have also halved.

Since 1997 the Labour government has been committed to bringing down waiting lists and as a result, waiting times for treatment are at their lowest since records began.

Whatever your condition, you will not have to wait more than 18 weeks from a GP referral to the start of hospital treatment, and the overall number of people on waiting lists has been brought down by 600,000 since 1997.

Whereas in 1997 284,000 patients were waiting for over six months for treatment, today the average wait for inpatient treatment stands at 4.5 weeks. The Tories, however, plan to abolish targets for the reduction of waiting lists, which will risk a return to the days of long waits and a poorer quality of healthcare.

Increased choice and better information for patients

In order to allow individuals a greater degree of control over their treatment, the Labour government has introduced an online Choose and Book system. Once the patient and GP have agreed that specialist care is necessary, the patient can go to and pick an appointment on a date and time that fits comfortably around their commitments, at a hospital of their choice.

Furthermore, over three quarters of GP practices have begun to offer extended opening hours for at least one evening or weekend session per week in order to allow greater access to medical assistance.

In addition, people can now visit the NHS website to read or contribute to reviews of GP surgeries. This comparison service encourages GPs to push harder to ensure the highest levels of quality healthcare for their communities.

Improved Cancer Care

Under Labour, anyone with suspected cancer will be guaranteed to see a cancer specialist within two weeksThe Labour government has guaranteed that anyone with suspected cancer will see a cancer specialist within two weeks, and all prescriptions for individuals receiving treatment for cancer will be completely free.

Since 1996 cancer mortality rates for under-75s have decreased by 18.2%, saving nearly 9000 more lives in 2007 than in 1996.

The government has also renewed its drive towards prevention of cancer, and has offered all teenage girls a vaccination against cervical cancer, alongside providing services to help individuals quit smoking and banning smoking in public places.

The Tories plan to undo all of the hard work Labour has put into ensuring that waiting lists are reduced by abolishing targets, and ignoring the benefits that they have brought to communities and individuals across the country.

All of the above successes demonstrate that the Labour party is committed to the NHS and dedicated to free and good quality healthcare for all.

Visit and

To find out about more about NHS delivery in the local area, follow this link

An end to hospital parking charges

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

The new Golden Jubilee wing at King's College HospitalUsers of local hospitals will benefit from free parking as the government is abolishing charges for inpatients and their visitors.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced that patients will be given a free parking permit for the duration of their stay in hospital to pass on to visiting friends and families, for whom parking costs can currently rack up.

The phasing out of the charges will take place over three years, and could save patients and their families up to £2 million a year. It will be paid for by year-on-year savings in back office NHS costs.

Local hospitals have benefitted from investment under Labour – King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill has a brand new 750-room Golden Jubilee Wing which cost £60 million.

St George’s Hospital in Tooting opened its award-winning new Atkinson Morley Wing in 2003 after government capital investment of £50 million.

Chuka said: “The last thing patients in hospital and their loved ones should have to worry about is paying for a parking ticket.”

“Friends and family should be able to visit patients in hospital without repeatedly paying parking fees to do so.”

An end to parking charges at local hospitals

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Users of local hospitals including St George’s and King’s College Hospital are to benefit from free parking after the government said that it would abolish charges for inpatients and their visitors.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has just announced that patients will be given a free parking permit for the duration of their stay in hospital to pass on to visiting friends and families, for whom parking costs can currently rack up.

It currently costs up to £2.50 per hour to park at King’s College Hospital during peak times an £2 per hour at St George’s Hospital.

The phasing out of the charges will take place over three years, and could save patients and their families up to £2 million a year. It will be funded by year-on-year savings in back office NHS costs.

King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill has benefited from government investment, with the brand new 750-room Golden Jubilee Wing, costing £60 million, being opened in 2003. St George’s Hospital in Tooting opened its award-winning new Atkinson Morley Wing in the same year after government capital investment of £50 million.

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Streatham commented:

“The last thing patients in hospital and their loved ones should have to worry about is paying for a parking ticket.

“Friends and family should be able to visit patients in hospital without repeatedly paying parking fees to do so.”

UCATT’s asbestos campaign

Monday, September 21st, 2009

UCATT is the UK’s only trade union specialising in construction and its national headquarters are based in Clapham, in the Streatham constituency. UCATT is campaigning on behalf of workers who have suffered from exposure to asbestos. Two years ago, the House of Lords ruled that pleural plaques – scarring of the lungs as a result of prolonged asbestos exposure – does not constitute a compensatable medical condition.

There are many cases of former construction workers who suffer from pleural plaques (watch the video above). As a result of the House of Lords’ decision those workers are unable to make a claim for compensation, only being able to do so if complications that result from pleural plaques such as mesothelioma develop, by which time treatment may come too late. Even in such cases, winning compensation is made more difficult by the fact that many of the construction companies involved have gone into liquidation, and finding the relevant insurer takes considerable time.

UCATT is campaigning to stop this injustice, and has launched a postcard calling on the Secretary of State for Justice to allow sufferers to claim compenstion. Please support the campaign by downloading and sending a campaign postcard (postage free) or signing the online petition.

VIDEO: The People’s Supermarket

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Below is a video about the People’s Supermarket, that is being established in Lambeth, which I am a strong supporter of.  It will offer a new way of shopping that aims to change the way we buy food. In short, it is a supermarket that is run by the people, for the people, selling the best food at the lowest possible prices.

I think the People’s Supermarket is a good antidote to the dominance of the increasingly dominant big supermarket chains. From a political view point, if we are to break the grip of big business and the market over our lives, we need to explore different forms of ownership and organisations like this – the People’s Supermarket is a great model. For more information, watch the my video interview below and visit:

We Love the NHS

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

The NHS delivers: Free Health Checks; MRSA Screening; Free prescriptions for cancer patients

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Streatham, welcomes NHS measures coming into force this month which will provide free services to local people.

The Health Secretary, Alan Johnson MP, has announced a series of measures which will transform the service the NHS provides, all coming into force this month:

  • free health checks for local people aged 40-74;
  • MRSA screening for all patients; and,
  • free prescription charges for local cancer sufferers.

Health checks will become free for everyone between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of an ambitious national programme to identify people’s risk to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes. The checks will play an important role in preventative care, having the potential to stop 1,600 heart attacks and strokes and save up to 650 lives each year. Additionally, they allow diabetes to be detected earlier in patients, which can prevent sufferers from developing Type 2 diabetes. The health checks also provide personalised advice on how to lower health risks and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Hospitals will now offer MRSA screening for all patients, reducing the chances of receiving the infection or the bug spreading within hospitals. This will be an additional tool in the fight against superbugs. MRSA rates in our hospitals are already falling; Compared to four years ago, the number of infections has more than halved, while locally King’s College Hospital has seen a 64% reduction.

Thirdly, cancer sufferers will no longer pay prescription charges for their medication. For those living with cancer, who often pay upwards of £100 a year, this crucially means one less worry at such a difficult time. The move will benefit over 1,900 people diagnosed with cancer in Lambeth and up to 150,000 nationally.

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Streatham, welcomed the changes:

“This illustrates Labour’s commitment to delivering a world-class health service in our area. Preventative care is crucial in making us a healthier society and reducing health inequalities. These are improvements which we can all be proud of.”

The announcements follow the news that Lambeth PCT has been ranked among the very best in the country by the Healthcare Commission, and that waiting times are at their shortest both locally and nationally since records began.