By Bridget Phillipson MP
Last Saturday, we celebrated the 66th birthday of the NHS. Like so many people across our country, I am immensely proud of the work that our doctors, nurses and support staff do every day. The NHS is a national institution that ensures that health care is a right, not a privilege. Its founding principles are important today as they were in 1948. But while we look back at the progress we've made, we must protect the NHS for the future. There are three important ways we can do this. It is essential that we continue to invest in research to find cures for long-term conditions, such as cancer and dementia. As we live longer, we must also make sure that the NHS is able to meet the challenges of an ageing population. Health care and social care must be more closely linked. Most importantly, the NHS must be able to operate effectively, in the best interests of the public and and patients' voices should be central to this.
Unfortunately, since the Conservative-led government came to power in 2010, our NHS has not been able to live up to expectations. The NHS has missed its target for access to cancer treatment for the first time ever. We have seen the numbers of people waiting longer than four hours in A&E nearly treble. A Labour government would guarantee a GP appointment within 48 hours, and the same day for those who need it. This would cut down on waiting times at A&E and make sure that people are not waiting longer than necessary to be seen. We would also give the public a greater say on changes with the NHS, making sure that profits are not put before patients.