Founded 70 years ago this July our NHS has become the nations most respected, sacred and treasured public institution.
Whenever I visit Tameside Hospital or one of our medical centres, I am reminded how incredibly fortunate we are in this country to have a world class health service looking after us and our loved ones when we need it. Sadly I also see the immense pressure that staff are working under on a daily basis as well as their very serious concerns about the future of health and social care.
I KNOW that across Stockport you will want to join me in praising all NHS and care staff for their incredible professionalism, love and care. Whatever challenges they have faced over the years of Tory cuts and mismanagement they have always been there for us, and we owe them a collective debt of gratitude.
We have all read the headlines of long waits, overflowing A&E Departments, and crowded wards full to the rafters with really sick people, as well as many older people with no support from an already depleted social care system.
In the current climate of underfunding and overstretched resources it’s clear that the extraordinary dedication of the people who work in the NHS is the only thing holding it together.
After a decade of public pressure Theresa May has announced an extra £20 billion by 2024, but none of this funding has been committed to ending the crisis in social care, as well as no idea how the Government plans to raise this extra £384m a week.
Up to 2010 and under a Labour government the long-term funding increases in the NHS were 4% and over per year. This unfunded Tory commitment is just 3.4% – after eight years in which NHS budget increases have averaged just 1.4% as well as huge cuts to social care.
We need a proper long-term plan for both health and social care. We can no longer have a system in place that cuts one service so to not impact another; instead we need a plan to recruit new staff and keep existing NHS staff who are desperately needed in every area of the health service – particularly within social care where there are a large number of vacancies in Stockport and across Greater Manchester.
At the last election, Labour set out a fully costed plan – based on taxing the super-rich and big business. In response to the Tory proposals Labour would match this pledge and go further.
If the Conservatives do manage to publish the detail of their insufficient 3.4% increase in NHS funding, the Labour’s plans to raise taxes for the top 5% and big business will top up put NHS spending growth to around the 5% which many in the health sector are saying is needed.
In 1997, after two decades of Conservative government, the NHS was on its knees. Hospitals were falling apart, over a million patients were on waiting lists, and there were not enough staff to take care of everyone properly.
Although today’s challenge is tougher than ever, Labour is committed to standing up for our NHS so that we can all celebrate its 100th birthday in 2048!