Former MP remembered as a defender of the NHS
Labour Party leader pays tribute to ex-chairman of health authority
12 January, 2018 — By Emily Finch
Eric Moonman: created patient drop-in centre
TO friends and ex-colleagues, Eric Moonman, former chairman of Islington’s health authority and Holloway resident, was a “committed and effective defender of our NHS”.
The former Labour MP for Billericay and Basildon, whose career was often peppered with controversy, has died at the age of 88.
He held a number of varied posts, ranging from chairman of Essex Radio Group to president of the British Zionist Federation, and was even a commentator on terrorism at one point.
This week, he was praised by Labour leader and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn.
As an MP, Mr Moonman chaired the all-party parliamentary group’s mental health committee and Labour’s new towns and urban affairs committee.
But he would later go on to clash with the Labour Party, which he resigned from temporarily in 1990 while heading Islington’s health authority. According to his memoir, Berdichev to Basildon, published last year, he was outraged when he was asked to disclose the political affiliations of his fellow authority members by the then shadow health minister Michael Meacher. He accused the party of being “Stalinist” in his column in The Times.
During his 13-year tenure as authority chairman he championed the opening up of staff-patient communication by creating a drop-in centre for patients akin to an MP’s surgery.
“The public came with serious or worrying matters and I genuinely believe the format worked well,” he wrote in his memoir.
Speaking to the Tribune, Mr Corbyn said: “I first met Eric when I was selected as candidate for Islington North in 1982 and will always remember him as a committed and effective defender of our NHS.
“He was one of the forerunners of the better understanding of mental health issues that we have today. The best tribute we can pay is to continue to fight for proper resources and support for all those who need it.”
Mr Moonman was born in Liverpool in 1929 to an Orthodox Jewish home. Following his death he was described by the Times of Israel as a “powerhouse of the Jewish and Zionist community”.
His father, Borach, hailed from Berdichev in Ukraine and ran a milk delivery company which was bombed during the war. The family then moved to a small flat in Southport.
He started his career with a seven-year apprenticeship at a printers and later the Liverpool Echo newspaper. He joined the Labour Party in his teens.
His death followed complications after a fall on December 22.
He is survived by wife Gillian and three children, Natasha, Daniel and Josh.