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Mayoral candidates address Health Hustings

The main candidates in the London mayoral race came to St Thomas' Hospital on the South Bank on Tuesday evening for the London Health Hustings.

The London Health Hustings – hosted by Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross – was organised by the Royal College of Nursing, the London NHS Confederation and the King's Fund.

The event follows a clash between Labour's Ken Livingstone and Conservative candidate Steve Norris over affordable housing for NHS workers. Livingstone claims 20,000 affordable properties – offered for rent or sale below market-rates – will be lost if Norris wins control of City Hall on 10 June because he will replace the target of making 50 per cent of all new homes affordable with a 35 per cent rule.

The event also featured Lib Dem Simon Hughes and the Green Party's Darren Johnson.

Mr Livingstone said: "Key workers are not just nurses, teachers and police. The people who clean and porter at London's hospitals are key workers too. It is relatively low-paid staff in the NHS who stand to lose the most from Steve Norris's plan." Meanwhile Norris accused the Mayor of pursuing a "class war": "If you make the target too ambitious, development simply doesn't happen."

Lib Dem Simon Hughes supports the 50 per cent affordable homes target and wants "one-stop shops" at London hospitals: "With so many people unable to get on GP lists across London, it is vital that new and innovative ways of allowing people access to basic health services is found."

The organisations behind the Health Hustings have produced a Health Manifesto [PDF] for London, setting out five key demands:
• Make London a healthy place to live, particularly by reducing traffic levels and improving air quality
• Tackle shortages of NHS staff and the high cost of living
• Promote healthy public services, green policies and local jobs
• Back more out-patient services to reduce hospital admissions
• Support new health facilities for the rising population

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