Local Tories have attacked the Independent Health Commission set up by four west London Labour councils but the latter claim the Conservatives are playing pre-election games.
The commission was set up by Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Hounslow councils to examine the impact of the NHS’s decision to reduce hospital services in north-west London, and a series of public meetings have been organised to allow people to discuss these changes with experts in the field.
Leader of Ealing's Conservative party, Cllr Gregory Stafford said: "Labour's health commission is nothing more than a Labour party-political stunt at the cost of tens of thousands to Ealing's taxpayers.
"Michael Mansfield may well be respected in his field, but 'independent' he is not.
"Julian Bell has already called for an independent inquiry which happened last year and did not find in his favour. It was only the Conservative health minister who intervened to save the hospitals at Ealing and Charing Cross.
"Local Labour has just slashed the public health budget in Ealing by £6m; this should be the subject of an inquiry as it will cut vital health services for the most vulnerable in our community.
"Instead we are seeing Ed Miliband's 'weaponisation' of the NHS in action. Labour should be ashamed of this nakedly political act."
Leader of Ealing Council, Julian Bell, fought back saying the Tories are seeking to "throw any mud they can" before the election.
He said: "They do not want local residents focusing on the devastation they have caused to local health services.
"They don’t want people to remember that at the last election the Conservative manifesto promised no forced closure of A&Es or maternity services. As soon as they got in Government, Ealing has faced both.
"The council commission will be an independent look at the changes that are underway in our local health service commissioned by the councils that these changes affect. This is because under the Tories the NHS are conducting their review behind closed doors and local people need to know the truth about what is happening to their local health service.”
Barrister Michael Mansfield QC is to head the commission. Mr Mansfield has represented Stephen Lawrence’s family and members of the Hillsborough Family Support group. Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired GP from Chiswick, who has extensive local knowledge, and John Lister, researcher on the People’s Inquiry into London’s NHS in 2012, will complete the commission.
The first session was held on Saturday (March 14) at Hammersmith Town Hall and the Commission will move to Ealing Town Hall this Saturday (March 21). There will be further meetings at Hounslow Civic Centre on Saturday March 28 and finally at Brent Civic Centre on Saturday May 9. All sessions will run from 9.30am-5.30pm.
People who wish to provide written evidence to the panel are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. People can also send submissions by post to Peter Smith, Clerk to the Commission, Room 39, Hammersmith Town Hall, London W6 9JU.