Though the NHS has been at the centre of this country’s identity for many years now, I believe that assuring its ongoing success and excellence is now the issue of our generation.
I am determined that the UK continues to be a world leader in the provision of health and social care for all its citizens, and that hard-working doctors, nurses, and carers are treated with the respect that they deserve by the State. This is certainly not an issue that I intend to put to one side.
You may have seen that I, along with many of my Conservative and Labour colleagues, signed a letter sent to the Prime Minister at the end of last year calling for genuine cross-party collaboration on the future of the NHS. I also wrote recently in the Independent calling for such changes. Though the recent response from No 10 was disappointing, I feel the pressure mounting on the government to make serious commitments to change is reaching a critical point.
Greater investment is likely to form an important element of any improvements to our healthcare, but the challenge extends much further than simply adding zeroes onto
budgets. Unless we are all willing and able to put aside our differences and stop treating the NHS as a political football, I cannot see how a long-term solution to the many challenges facing health and social care in this country can be met head-on and solved.
These are indeed extraordinarily challenging times for health and social care in the UK, but I hope I can assure you that I remain determined to work towards finding a lasting solution as quickly as I can, and the very vast majority of my colleagues from all parties are keen to do the same.