I want to start by putting on record my thanks and appreciation to our NHS staff who do a wonderful job.
When I became an MP in 1997 people were waiting 18 months and longer to have an operation with long waits to see a cancer specialist. When Labour left office in 2010 we had record low waiting times, with an average waiting time of 18 weeks and a waiting time of two weeks to see a cancer specialist.
Our NHS was put under severe stress by the Tory and Lib Dem decision to have a massive reorganisation of the NHS in 2011- the Health and Social Care Act- costing more than £3 Billion. We now have a fragmented Health system and more privatisation.
After seven years of the Tories in charge our NHS waiting times are rising, patients are lying on trolleys in corridors.
Many of our hospitals, including Halton and Warrington Hospitals have a large financial deficit.
Halton residents have been telling me about their concerns regarding the Tory’s handling of our NHS.
In February 2015 I secured a debate in Parliament on the growing crisis facing General Practice and the shortage of GPs. However, the Tory government has still failed to address the problem.
You know that it is often difficult to get an appointment, especially with the GP you want to see. Waiting three or four weeks is now not uncommon. The Tory government has completely failed to properly address rising demand and the shortage of GPs.
Our Adult Social Care is also in crisis, in November I spoke in a debate about the crisis in adult social care calling on government to put in place plans to address the problem. Quite simply, the government has underfunded social care. The Quality Care Commission, which regulates social care, said last year the system was fragile and at a “tipping point”. The Tory government has no plan to address long term funding.
Mental ill-health is the biggest unaddressed health challenge of our age. Around one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
Yet, since 2010 mental health funding has been cut, the number of mental health nurses has fallen by 6,600 and remaining mental health budgets have been raided to plug holes elsewhere in the NHS.
This cannot continue we deserve better than this.
I want to see investment in our NHS, to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need for the 21st century. Labour will ensure that NHS patients get the world-class quality of care they need and that staff are able to deliver the standards that patients expect.
I want to see a reversing of privatisation of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control. Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act.
I want to see guaranteed access to treatment within 18 weeks.
I want to see the Cancer Strategy for England delivered in full by 2020, helping 2.5 million people living with cancer.
I want to see free parking in NHS England - for patients, staff and visitors – by increasing the tax on private medical insurance premiums.
I want to see a National Care Service for England.
All of these things are only possible to achieve with a Labour government. We founded our NHS and we will save it from the damage inflicted on it by the Tories.
During my 20 years as Halton’s MP I have made it an absolute priority to stand up for our NHS and campaign for better health services in Halton. I campaigned for more elective surgery to take place at Halton Hospital and the opening of the Runcorn Treatment Centre as an NHS facility. I successfully campaigned for the Walk-In Centre in Widnes which is now a well-used Urgent Care Centre.
If re-elected I will continue to stand up for our NHS and patients.