The state of our NHS is a subject that is brought up time and time again on the doorstep and I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify a few points.
One of the accusations levelled at me as the Conservative candidate for Norwich South is that the Conservative Party is systematically destroying the NHS and has been doing that for the last 60 years. And this simply is not the case.
Our health needs are changing, evolving and - as time goes on - the fact that we are all living longer, albeit with varying degrees of aches and pains, illnesses and bionic knees, is putting an increasing strain on limited resources. Keyhole surgery techniques, hip replacement kits, incredibly clever and sophisticated cancer treatments, all come at a cost that was previously unimaginable. Out of hours care used to be delivered by the local doctor and if he was unavailable, then that was just tough - now we have sophisticated call centres with highly trained staff who can help address our out-of-hours medical emergencies over the phone.
We’ve had to re-organise and change the way we cope with healthcare needs.
So in the late 2000’s the government of the time handed over the commissioning of primary health to Doctors, and the Clinical Commissioning Groups were formed. Love them or loathe them, they are run by doctors and some do better at keeping within budgets than others and yes, to get the best possible deal for the patients and the CCG, some of the contracts for services fall to private contractors such as cleaning companies and charities. Which in turn flags up as “privatisation” of the NHS. And sometimes, hospitals will set up a contract with a private healthcare provider such as Spire to manage a waiting list backlog and yes, that’s often deemed to be privatisation as well.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say that there is no truth in the myth that the Conservative Party is intending to break up and privatise the NHS as a whole. There is no plan to make us pay for healthcare other than through taxation. We are investing an extra £8bn a year into the NHS, and it would be my job as your local MP to ensure that a fair share of that funding makes its way to Norwich South.
I’ve worked in the NHS, I’ve been a patient in the NHS and I’ve had family cared for by the NHS. I know that our nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals do an amazing job and I know that caring for people is a vocation, and I know how upsetting it is when you feel that your passion for the job is being taken for granted with long hours, disorganised management and pay that just doesn’t seem to cover the bills.
I promise to work with all NHS providers in Norwich South and make sure we get a positive outcome and an even better NHS than before. I will work with senior minsters and the wider Norfolk MP team to lobby for improved funding, and with the hospitals and CCG to make sure that services are being delivered as effectively as possible.