I am committed to upholding the founding principles of the NHS which is a universal healthcare system provided free at the point of use. I am proud of the NHS and believe that it should continue to be a comprehensive, integrated and public service that is there for all of us when we need it.

NHS spending on private sector providers has more than doubled in cash terms since 2010. I am very concerned that the landscape created by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 has delivered a fragmented and wasteful system. It has allowed a situation where NHS expenditure on private health providers now stands at £9 billion.

Healthcare should be delivered through partnership and planning rather than a market-based system. That is why at the last General Election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to reverse the Health and Social Care Act and reinstate the duty on the Health and Social Care Secretary to provide universal care, to end privatisation and to encourage a move towards genuinely integrated and publically administered system.

I am deeply concerned about the sustained underfunding of our NHS. Eight years of cuts, privatisation and the biggest financial squeeze in its history have pushed our health service to the brink and it is patients who are paying the price. This winter was the worst on record as waiting lists topped 4 million, more than 84,000 patients had their operation cancelled on the day and 2.8 million people waited more than four hours in A&E.

The Government’s recent announcement that it will increase expenditure on the NHS by an average of 3.4% annually over the next five years represents little more than a standstill. It is less than what experts have been calling for and it is insufficient to deliver the much-needed improvements in care. Conservative Ministers have also refused to announce any extra funding for social care, capital spending and public health.

My Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Conservative Government to bring forward a long-term plan for the NHS and social care sector, to end privatisation, reverse the Health and Social Care Act and ensure that the NHS remains free and accessible to all. I will also continue to push for proper funding of the social care sector which is in vitally needed.

Barbara celebrates the NHS at 70
Barbara celebrates the NHS at 70
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