Letter: Turn again, Norris

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The mayor of London will not need to control the NHS to improve the health of Londoners (Ken Livingstone, 9 December). Poverty and ill- health exist side by side with immense affluence in London. There is now clear evidence that people living on low incomes, and in poor housing, with little or no control over their daily lives, are more likely to become ill than richer people.

Our health service is a national system that should provide an equal standard of care wherever people live. Although one of the main founding aims of the NHS was to improve health, it is often preoccupied with treating illness. It does not have control over many of the causes of ill health in an unequal society.

It is not necessary for the NHS to be run by the Greater London Authority. The mayor and assembly can contribute to improving health in the capital by focusing on the root causes of ill health and tackling health inequalities. The mayor's transport strategy can reduce isolation and accidents; the economic development strategy can create jobs in deprived communities; and tackling racism and discrimination can be put at the heart of the GLA. These are the measures that can deliver lasting and radical change in the health of Londoners.

LIZ KENDALL

Fellow in Public Health

King's Fund

London W1

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