Sunday, January 4, 2015

Don't let the Tories kill off the NHS - it won't survive another five years of Cameron

Labour MP Tom Watson, tells why it's vital for the NHS that the Tories are ousted

David Cameron delivers a speech
Axeman: David Cameron will subject the NHS to further cuts

The NHS is sick. Sick of being stripped, bullied and undervalued. Our most beloved national institution can’t survive another five years of Cameron. Another five years of cutbacks and crisis under his “care”.

This is the man who vowed he’d cut the deficit, not the NHS. Well, he lied.

The Tories plan to slash spending on public services to levels not seen since the 1930s. This would put us on an equal footing with Mexico and Korea, countries where up to half the health service is privately funded.

Our A&Es have just endured the biggest meltdown in history. A record number of patients waited more than four hours for emergency care before Christmas. This is one of more than a dozen care standards broken under Tory management.

And let’s not forget the silent heroes battling to keep the NHS together. From nurses to cleaners, they worked round the clock while many of us relaxed over Christmas and New Year.

We take it for granted the NHS will perform miracles when our bodies fail. And it does, time and again, despite intolerable pressures. Despite NHS staff not getting paid enough to live on. A third of workers, including porters and catering staff, earn less than £21,000 a year.

Figures from Unison also reveal NHS staff haven’t received an above-inflation pay-rise since 2009. Cameron talks about creating a land of ­opportunity, but all this government has created is in-work poverty.

Nurse with a patient
Outrage: NHS staff haven’t received an above-inflation pay-rise since 2009

The NHS gives us freedom from fear of illness thanks to Nye Bevan. His legacy is still relevant today, nearly 70 years after his health service became reality. However, we must be on our guard. The Tories pose a clear and present danger to the very ­institution that makes Britain great.

As for UKIP, they’re not fit to run their own party – let alone an ­organisation with nearly two million staff. Nigel Farage claims he backs an NHS which is free at the point of use. Yet two and a half years ago he talked of moving towards an ­insurance-based system. Can you trust this man with your health and your life? No.

Electing the Tories again would make the NHS unrecognisable. A future NHS should be built around patients so it meets all their needs. A Labour government would make this a reality by giving the public a say on local services. Labour health chief Andy Burnham will create a £2.5billion-a-year fund to support thousands more nurses, GPs, home care workers and midwives...