For most people like me, the NHS has been there for many of the good times as well as the difficult times in our lives, and next week will mark 70 years since its creation. This milestone anniversary has provided the perfect chance for us all to reflect on how the NHS has affected our lives, how it has changed with the times, and what it should look like in the future, especially in light of Brexit and the public health challenges our country will face.
Whilst I’m proud that the NHS budget is currently the highest it has ever been, it’s fair to say that funding increases have been historically inconsistent. So, I’m glad that, following the Prime Minister’s announcement, this is being put right with a long-term plan that will see the NHS budget increase by £394 million per week in real terms.
The fact that we are able to make this commitment to the NHS is testament to the approach that the Government has taken over the past eight years, ensuring that we have a strong economy funding our public services well into the future, and we will draw upon the benefits which more free trade and different financial arrangements bring after our withdrawal from the European Union.
Locally, we have made great strides in integrating health and social care services, and last year the stroke centre at Stepping Hill Hospital was named best in the country.
However, two areas where residents tell me we lag behind in Stockport are staffing at A&E and mental healthcare, so I was glad to see these addressed in the Prime Minister’s five priorities for the NHS. Ensuring staff are both empowered to take action based on local knowledge and flexible enough to adapt to a changing environment is crucial to ensuring people’s experience at A&E is no more stressful than it already is.
Ensuring that we treat mental and physical health as equals is also vital if we are to tackle the kinds of health issues that are increasingly affecting more of us, and I am glad that we will boost investment in mental healthcare.
I’m glad that the NHS is getting the 70th birthday present it deserves. It has been there for all of us when we needed it, and it’s right to ensure it can do the same for our children and grandchildren too.