James Williamson

I live in Manchester with my wife and three children. I qualified as a doctor in 1996 and after working in many North West hospitals as a trainee, I have been an A&E consultant at Warrington for almost 10 years. I have always considered A&E to be a particularly socialist form of healthcare – however wealthy some people may be, as when they become acutely unwell there are no other options; A&E offers equality of provision for all. A&E is frequently under the spotlight as a barometer of NHS pressures. I was proud to be a principal contributor to the widely publicised letter sent by UK A&E lead consultants to Theresa May last month. But it’s not just down to inadequate Tory health policy. Every day, I see direct consequences on patients’ health of other forms of Tory austerity; inadequate housing and homelessness; benefit changes and insecure work; cuts to support services; the list is long. These all serve to widen health inequality, and contribute directly to physical and mental health issues which in turn add even more work to an already over-pressured NHS.

The NHS is now in a desperate situation – and it is clear that the social care sector is working under similar pressures. It is a testament to all NHS and care workers that despite crisis conditions, standards of care have largely been maintained. But make no mistake, there is a grave threat to quality and safety in the NHS, and this Tory government must be held to account for it. I have been a member of the Labour Party for my whole adult life. The last Labour government didn’t always get everything right, but the NHS was rescued from the brink of disaster. Things now feel as bad as 1996 again, and in many respects they are worse: The party will need to save the NHS again. In my view, one of the key roles of the SHA must be for principled advocates of Labour values to offer informed and experienced perspectives to inform party policy, and to lead public campaigns as health professionals, as I have recently done. I believe my many years at the front line of the NHS puts me in a strong position to offer my experience to help develop the SHA. In my very pressurised work running an A&E department, I have to be highly organised and able to bring together a range of views – skills I think will be invaluable.

 

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