On the 5th of July this year, the NHS will turn 75 years old. Launched by the then Health Secretary Nye Bevan at Park Hospital in Manchester, the NHS’ basic principle – a free at the point of need health service – remains unchanged.
Over the last 75 years, the NHS has had to adapt and meet the ever-changing challenges of modern Britain. There is no greater example of this than the Covid-19 pandemic when – as the rest of the country went into lockdown – the NHS mobilised to treat those succumbing to this new virus and delivered over 151 million vaccinations.
I believe in the NHS to my bones. The mark of a civilised society is whether or not it is capable of treating those who are ill, irrespective of how much money they have in their pocket. It is for this reason that I am so passionate about defending our health service at all costs.
Over the last 13 years, the NHS has been systematically neglected, with waiting times now at record highs. A service not too long ago regarded as the envy of the world is now on its knees, and is in dire need of support.
In my role as Shadow Public Health Minister, I’ve backed calls for NHS investment and reform.
The fact is, the NHS currently does not have the necessary staff to tackle the unprecedented backlogs here in Tameside and across the country. That’s why we need to double the number of medical school places, double the number of nurses, and train thousands of new NHS staff. This plan could very easily be paid for by abolishing the non dom tax status, so that those who work here, pay their taxes here.
So that’s the investment side of the equation, but the reform side is equally important. I’ve been really inspired by local health teams here in Tameside linking their care to the community and developing innovative new ways of communicating with patients. I want this effort to be matched nationally, with the NHS embracing community care, and utilising new tools and technology.
This needs to come alongside a prevention strategy, which addresses things like poor housing, low pay, mental ill health and more, so that people receive the support they need before they end up in A&E or requiring specialist care.
This all might sound rose-tinted, but it’s been done before and must be done again. Local people deserve an NHS that is fit for the future.