London’s mayor has no responsibility for health but he has the opportunity to raise health standards. This is the conclusion of a report by the King’s Fund who looked at the way mayors in nine major cities have raised standards by prioritising the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable, by building partnerships across sectors and by motivating people.This view is supported by evidence from overseas. In New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards crime included a major campaign against domestic violence, which brought the city’s health services and police force closer together. Giuliani also made tackling discrimination against people with mental illnesses a major issue as part of his campaign to get people off benefits and into work.
Health is a strategic issue which cuts across the Mayor’s responsibilities for community safety, regeneration and transport. He is urged to adopt aHealth Strategy for London and ensure that each of the Greater London Authority’s major strategies are designed to reduce health inequalities. A Health Strategy could be implemented by applying leverage through the media, campaigning, political negotiation and personal influence.