65 YEARS OF THE NHS: My article for the Tameside Reporter

NHS PicThe NHS was founded sixty-five years ago this week by a Labour Government.

It remains an incredible institution to this day and is rightfully one of Britain’s, and Labour’s, proudest achievements. But the NHS today is suffering from an A&E crisis which is why I’m asking everyone in Tameside to join our campaign calling on David Cameron to keep his promise to protect our health service.

Rather than focussing on the frontline, David Cameron is spending £3billion of taxpayers’ money on an unnecessary, unwanted top-down reorganisation of the NHS that nobody voted for and that he promised wouldn’t happen. We’ve also lost 4,000 nurses, seen ambulance queues double and now A&E waiting times are at a nine-year high. He’s broken his promise on the NHS and it is patients in Tameside that are paying the price.

We have to acknowledge that things haven’t always been perfect here in Tameside Hospital, but I am not in the business of running my local hospital down. Most people using Tameside Hospital will only ever have experienced the best of care possible. But it would be incorrect to say that is a complete picture. I know from my own constituency casework, that there are people who have been let down by Tameside Hospital. And the hospital continues to feature on the radar of both Monitor, the Foundation Trust regulator, and of the Care Quality Commission. Some improvements have been made, but in my opinion, not quickly enough. And sadly that lack of progress has been further highlighted this week too.

But nor do we want to put ourselves in the situation where hospital closure is the only option. There is an awful lot of good done – I know from my own experience – by dedicated staff, who have great ideas on how to drive through the changes needed to make over local hospitals one of the greatest in Greater Manchester.

So we also have to focus on the future and in my role as Shadow Health Minister I’ve spoken to patients and health workers in Tameside and they’ve told me they are worried about the future of the NHS under this coalition government. I know first-hand how good our NHS can, be is but it needs protecting so that future generations are able to benefit from our incredible health service.

We also need to safeguard the NHS for the future. Labour has put forward bold proposals for a genuinely integrated NHS and social care system, bringing together physical health, mental health and social care into a single service to meet all of our care needs.

Labour created the NHS in 1948, and it is one of our proudest achievements. Its 65th birthday is an opportunity to celebrate, but if we’re going to commemorate future milestones then we need to make sure our NHS is strengthened and protected.

You can join our campaign at labour.org.uk/nhs-crisis. Help us send a strong message to David Cameron that our health service doesn’t deserve his broken promises.

This article was written for the ‘Westminster Weekly’ column in the Tameside Reporter and Glossop Chronicle.

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