A number of local residents have contacted me to ask for my views on the future of the National Health Service. Let me assure you that if elected as your MP, I am committed to protecting the fundamental principles of the NHS as we know them – I want our NHS to be a world-leading, world-class health service, accountable to the public, benefitting from new and increased investment and free at the point of delivery.
I know how much the local NHS is valued by our community. As a local resident, myself and my family rely on the same health services that you do – whether that’s our local GPs, community services, or the excellent services provided by Salford Royal Hospital.
I was proud to support the campaign to retain our Maternity Unit at Salford Royal Hospital, and I will never forget how the then Secretary of State for Health, Labour MP Alan Johnson, slipped out the decision to close it on the day before the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2007. It is a source of profound regret and disappointment that the current Government felt that the process had moved too far down the line to reverse the decision.
The pressures on our health service have never been so great. As a rule, we are living longer, and as we grow older many of us live with conditions that previous generations would have found difficult or impossible to treat. These life-saving and life-changing advancements are fantastic news, and they mean that the NHS can’t simply stand still. We need to innovate, to invest and to adapt to create a world-class National Health Service that serves the needs of our community today and in the future.
Spending on the health service has increased by £12.9 billion over the course of this Parliament, and I will support plans to continue to increase spending in real terms on the NHS in each year of the next Parliament. This increased spending has meant over 9000 more doctors, 7000 more nurses and 2000 more midwives in the NHS since 2010. It has also funded new treatments like the cancer drugs fund, which has helped more than 60,000 people gain access to pioneering, life enhancing medicines.
These extra staff are working in cleaner, safer hospitals. The safeguards put into place following the Mid Staffordshire tragedy are helping to expose poor care and improve patient safety, mixed-sex wards have almost been eradicated, and hospital infections have almost halved since 2010.
I am also a strong supporter of the Conservative pledge to improve GP access so that by 2020 everyone will be able to see a GP seven days a week. I know that make convenient appointments is a big issue for many local people – as someone who works full-time myself I find it difficult to see the doctor at a time which is convenient. Vulnerable older residents also now have the reassurance of a named GP.
The future of our health service is a vital issue and one of great concern to most local people. I want to have a positive debate about the future of our NHS. Unfortunately it is difficult to have that positive debate when the Labour Party is determined to try to scare people into voting for them with increasingly ridiculous negative tales. This is pure and simple scaremongering to win votes and our political debate is much the worse for it. Private contractors account for a tiny fraction of total NHS spending, and the vast majority of the growth of those private contracts took place under a Labour Government.