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In todays debate, not only has the need to move from a target-driven NHS to a health outcomes-driven NHS been spelt out, but so, too, has the means by which we can achieve that, which is what people want. I hope that the Government, who no doubt had their eyes and ears officially at the launch of our document today, are listening carefully, because our proposalsand this documentare there for them to pick up. We do not just have pride of authorship in the document; we hope that they will pick up on it, as it will lead to better health outcomes for our constituents and give a proper
chance for the NHS to develop over the next 60 years in the way that we all wish, particularly as we celebrate its first 60 years.
In congratulating the NHS on its 60th anniversary, we thank, celebrate and encourage all the staff, past and present and clinical and non-clinical alike. They can be assured of our support on behalf of our constituents, and know that all of us draw inspiration from the very idea of the NHS. All we want is for it to reach the levels of improvement that we know it can achieve when the people in it are trusted to deliver the improved health outcomes we all want. I commend the motion to the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ann Keen): I, too, am exceptionally proud and very pleased to wind up in this debate on 60 years of the health service. First, let me say to the hon. Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) on his history of family nursing, I think it is time I met Mrs. OBrien.
This July, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS, which is not only a great institution but a great, unique and very British expression of the ideal that health care is not a privilege to be purchased, but a moral right secured for all. Opposition Members have made much about references to history. They might have a point if they were talking about 1946 and 1948, but I cannot see how history can start as recently as 2005that is not long agowhen the Conservative election manifesto proposed patient passports, and not all Conservative Members agreed with the funding of the NHS in that way. Surely, 2005 cannot be described as history?
Much has been said in particular about the NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan, but also about Sir William Beveridge, who looked at the five giants. However, since I was first elected as a Member of this House in 1997 the main Opposition parties have voted against anything that would actually bring about the defeat of the five giants of want, disease, squalor, ignorance and idleness. That is not history; that is 1997, when the greatest inequality addressed in the House was to do with the minimum wage, and the Opposition parties voted against that.
I therefore feel that history is not, perhaps, what we should be discussing, but I can certainly give a lesson in herstory, because herstory worked in the NHS throughout most of the time that the Conservatives were in government. I visited the north-east today, and met staff who were born in 1948 and who are working in the NHS today. I particularly want to mention Irene Lerche, who is an appointment and records officer, and Agnes Donoghey, who works for domestic services. I also met up with an old friend: an ambulance driver who was in Chester.
Ten years ago, people questioned whether the British NHS could survive. It is a testimony to the extraordinary work done by nurses, doctors and all NHS staff [Interruption.] I ask Opposition Members just to take a lesson from herstory; she only has a few minutes. In the 10 years since I have been in this House, the NHS is more firmly than ever part of the fabric of British national life.
Deaths from cancer and heart disease have fallen dramatically and Britain is one of the safest places in the world to give birth. The NHS is the largest employer in Europe. Its staff both past and present have helped to care for tens of millions of people and saved many hundreds of thousands of lives. We acknowledge that the NHS has come through difficult times, and it is a testimony to the hard work and dedication of its staff that it has turned a £547 million deficit in 2005-06 into a £515 million net surplus at 2006-07. All are to be congratulated.
Tonight, we also need to recognise the volunteers and charitable organisations that have made a huge contribution to the success of the NHS and to the health and well-being of patients. We would particularly like to thank charities not only for their contribution to patients and their families lives, but also for their support and ongoing partnership with the Government, which is so valuable in determining the best outcomes for patients. Be it our cancer strategy or our stroke strategy, all have contributed; everybody feels part of this NHS. Stakeholders are constantly consulted and their documents shared, and they are proud of the documents that they have produced. Not acknowledging the organisations that praise the national stroke strategy in particular does nothing for the Conservative party. The chief executive of the Stroke Association has highlighted that strategy, which I believe it is celebrating this week.
One million more operations a year are performed, and heart operations have more than doubled, so I am pleased to say that we do more than hope; we are really meeting our targets on heart disease, which should be welcomed by the Opposition parties. If this is a true debate on really acknowledging the changes that have taken place, we should have the acknowledgment that the targets have made a difference. The difference that they have made is that people are alive, and their quality of life is better. They are not in pain or worried about whether they will see the end of the year out, until the next waiting list figures are produced. They are alive and well and their quality of life has increased dramatically. That is thanks to the dedication and commitment of staff. A number of NHS trusts around the country have already delivered on the 18-week targetnine months early.
Next week, the NHS next stage review will build on the progress that it has made with a new vision for the NHS based on care that is fair, personalised, effective and safe. We commend our noble Friend and colleague Lord Darzi and his work. The major review that he has led will inevitably result in a significant improvement in patient-centred care. I am quite clear that the NHS must continue to change. To quote Sister Wendy Larmouth, the sister in charge, along with Professor Andrew Cant, of the northern regional bone marrow transplant unit,
we no longer do ordinary, we now regularly do extraordinary.
That is a truly remarkable team, and the unit is ranked No. 3 in Europe. We must continue to organise medical expertise so that the highest standards of care are available to all patients. If we can achieve all thisI hope Members throughout the House agree that this should be a shared objectivewe will make the NHS safe for future generations.
At the last election, we fought battles on the NHS. We have constantly been reminded in the House of the history. Are you thinking what were thinking? was a
slogan at the time. Well, the British people knew what to think. They re-elected a Labour Government to secure the NHS. I believe that the NHS is the best insurance system for the long term, and even more relevant to Britain today than it was in 1948. I commend our amendment to the House.
That this House celebrates 60 years of the NHS; recognises the support from all political parties for the NHS during that time; is grateful to NHS staff, past and present, who are the key to its success; commends their commitment and expertise in delivering patient care in often difficult circumstances; acknowledges the unique contribution of volunteers and charitable organisations; is committed to providing the NHS with the funding it needs to deliver European standards of healthcare to all; recognises an opportunity to make the NHS more patient-centred by focussing on outcomes; further recognises the defining contribution the NHS has made to the health and wellbeing of the nation since 1948; acknowledges that the principles upon which the NHS was established, funded by general taxation and free at the point of delivery, are immutable; accepts that target reductions in waiting times have significantly improved services to patients; and looks forward to the next 60 years of the NHS characterised by world-class quality healthcare as well as greater personalisation, individual choice and easier access to services..
That the draft Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (Northern Ireland Political Parties) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 16th May, be approved. [Mr. Khan.]
That the draft Ministerial and other Salaries Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 2nd June, be approved .
That the draft Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 21st May, be approved.
That the draft Armed Forces (Service Complaints) (Consequential Amendments) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 21st May, be approved.
That the draft Armed Forces (Alignment of Service Discipline Acts) Order 2008, which was laid before this House on 21st May, be approved. [Mr. Khan.]
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