Michael Wrench must be very concerned about the falling poll ratings of UKIP as people start to realise that their policies are either ill thought out, impractical or wrong. How else can we explain the rather hysterical tone of his letter in the Shuttle last week(‘UKIP will back NHS’)?
I am afraid that I am not going to take lessons on the NHS from a party whose own General Secretary, Matthew Richardson, just over a month ago, described the NHS as “the biggest waste of money in the UK”. Nigel Farage has called for the use of an insurance based system of health care which would ensure that the wealthy get better treatment than the poor and UKIP Deputy Leader, Paul Nuttall, congratulated the Tory led Coalition government “for bringing a whiff of privatisation into the beleaguered NHS”. We might also want to judge the UKIP leader on the company he keeps. Last week Farage was consorting with right wing Republicans in Washington DC who are pledged to abolish President Obama’s modest health care reforms and regard the British NHS with horror as ‘socialised medicine’. You simply cannot believe a word UKIP say on the NHS.
Labour created the NHS in 1948 in the face of opposition from the Tories. I am proud that we created a health system which treats all regardless of income and is regarded as a beacon of progressive health care. In 1997 Labour inherited an NHS on its knees and turned it around. In the decade up to 2010 the NHS received 7% more in real terms every year. In 18 years of Tory rule we only got ten new hospitals: under Labour we saw more than 100 built across the country. In 1979 half of all hospitals had been built before 1948. By 2010 that had fallen to less than 20%. Under Labour we saw more than 160,000 clinical professionals including 89,000 more nurses and 44,000 more doctors. Labour built 90 walk in centres and established the respected ‘NHS Direct’ help service.
The results were clear. The death rate fell, life expectancy rose, the number dying due to circulatory disease fell and cancer and stroke mortality rates fell. 2.4 million people were helped to quit smoking and young people were encouraged to play sport and eat fruit and veg. Junk food advertising was banned on children’s TV. In 2009 the independent Nuffield Trust study concluded: “No one could justifiably deny that the past decade has seen an improvement in the quality of the NHS”. I think that is a more measured and sensible assessment than the shrill tones of UKIP.
Dr Matt Lamb, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.
Promoted by Jerry Bartlett on behalf of Dr. Matt Lamb both at Wyre Forest
Labour Party, Paddington House, New Road, KIDDERMINSTER DY10 1AL