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Labour general secretary thanks NHS for ‘saving my life’ after cancer diagnosis

Jennie Formby was given a standing ovation when she took to the stage at the party conference in Brighton.

Jennie Formby has been undergoing cancer treatment (PA)
Jennie Formby has been undergoing cancer treatment (PA)

By Richard Wheeler and Josh Thomas, PA Political Staff

Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby has paid an emotional tribute to the NHS, saying it saved her life after she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.

The senior party official received a standing ovation as she arrived on stage at Labour’s conference in Brighton, and was presented with flowers by leader Jeremy Corbyn.

She pledged Labour would protect the NHS from privatisation.

She also said Labour is tackling anti-Semitism in the party, and took aim at Prime Minister Boris Johnson, claiming he is an “openly and unrepentant racist”.

She told delegates: “I want to say a huge thank-you to everyone who has given me so much support over the last six months.

“I’m not quite there yet but the love and solidarity that I’ve experienced from across our party and our whole movement has been incredible and I can’t tell you how much it’s been appreciated by me and my family.

“I also want to say a heartfelt thank-you to all the incredible nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, support workers, theatre staff, lab techs, porters, cleaners, and every other NHS worker who has given me such outstanding care, as they do for so many every day. They’ve saved my life.”

She said the NHS is “under existential threat”, and warned against a UK-US trade deal led by Mr Johnson and US President Donald Trump.

Ms Formby took aim at the Conservatives, saying: “We have the shame of an openly and unrepentant racist Prime Minister, presiding over a Tory party with many proven Islamophobes in their numbers, steadfastly refusing to care enough to take any action.

“But that doesn’t let us off the hook. We’re Labour and we’re better than that. We always have been and we won’t tolerate discrimination of any kind in our party.”

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Ms Formby thanked the party for support during her treatment (Gareth Fuller/PA)

She said Labour has taken action on anti-Semitism, and has published updated statistics on the complaints process.

She said the party has launched a members’ booklet and webpage, “No Place for Antisemitism”, and is working on developing further educational materials to help members “understand and challenge racism in all its forms”.

PA

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