There are moments in the history of our country that stand alone as achievements unparalleled across the globe, and few more so than our National Health Service, standing for 75 years as the envy of the world.
I was born in 1956 and I am incredibly grateful that for my whole life, whenever I have needed it, the NHS has been there for me and for all my family and friends. It has been there to help me in tough moments and nurse people I care about back to health, it has meant the world to us all.
That is the truth for so many people across the country.
When Labour and Aneurin Bevan created the NHS on 5 July 1948, I think few would have predicted just how much it would impact the lives of everyone for an incredible 75 years, we’ve had tv shows based on the gritty drama that unfolds, books written full of personal accounts, and we’ve seen everyone in the country show gratitude by lining up on their doorstep to clap every Thursday night.
I know everyone will be full of thanks for every individual member of staff for the work they have done over the years, for being there for all of us.
When looking at an anniversary such as this, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on where we are now, and what the future holds. A future in which the Tories can’t be trusted.
Public faith has been diminishing as fewer doctors and nurses are trained, waiting lists grow and targets are missed.
We have a Prime Minister prepared to break his own defence on pay rises and offer one lower that what is recommended by the pay review bodies, we have a former health minister asking for a royal review into the sustainability of the health service, and we have a sway of the Tory right, hell bent on ideological opinions calling for further means of privatisation.
They also threaten our social care system. Calling to remove a vital workforce lifeline for our social care system, threatening to collapse the services even further after 13 years of neglect.
Low wages and an under supported cares services are creating a crisis right across our nation. Patients being stuck in hospitals as they await care packages, families having to take time off work or leave the education system to support loved ones. I hear stories of this on an all to regular basis and my heart goes out to everyone who is put in this position due to underfunding from our national Government
But the NHS still has a strong future ahead.
Everyone, wherever they live, whatever they earn, should get healthcare that is free at the point of use. That was the unique, founding promise of the NHS and much like that of 1948, the NHS needs a Labour Government now more than ever.
As an immediate priority, Labour will grip the biggest crisis in the history of the NHS. We will do this by getting the basics right and taking long-term, pragmatic, common sense steps.
The last Labour Government reduced waiting times and we will do the same again. We will give the NHS the staff it needs to treat patients on time, which is why we will undertake one of the biggest workforce expansions in history and deliver a long-term workforce plan that addresses retention issues.
We’ll reduce pressure on GPs and emergency care by recruiting thousands of mental health staff to give more people access to treatment before they reach crisis.
And we’ll free up beds, avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and tackle delayed discharges by doubling the number of district nurses and improving pay, terms and conditions for care workers.
Labour would create a National Care Service that fixes our long term problems around social care.
The future we all want for the NHS is embedded in our Labour priorities. 75 incredible years of support, and a future plan to deliver many more.
I am sure you will all join me in thanking every NHS worker for the role they have played in our lives in this week of celebration of 75 magical years.