The NHS has a very special place in my heart and the nation’s heart and rightly so. It is the envy of the world. But by no means is it perfect and there needs to be improvements in certain areas.
The nursing staff and the doctors do a tremendous job under difficult circumstances and with lots of pressure. We need to look at redirecting resources from middle management salaries towards extra front-line staff within the NHS to allow nursing staff to give the best care they can to every patient.
We also need to look at the Accident and Emergency system to ensure there is adequate service for patients to go to so they do not use A&E as their first point of call. By strengthening Out Of Hours availability, Walk-In centres and access to GPs we can help our stretched A&E services.
Mental Health also needs to be held in the same regard as physical health. Steps are already being taken to ensure that they are treated equally.
There also needs to be action taken to help those trusts who are struggling with huge PFI bills that are directing money away from use on treatments. We also need to end the ‘postcode lottery’ for treatments.
However, the one thing that needs to stay the same is the founding principle of the NHS – free at the point of delivery.
Liberal Democrats have a clear guarantee that the NHS is excluded from the negotiations on TTIP and will not be affected. I will work with colleagues both at Westminster and in the EU to continue to ensure that this guarantee is protected. However, with an election looming, the outcome of the election is uncertain. Because there is no guarantee the Liberal Democrats will be part of the government after the election; a Conservative only government cannot be trusted with the NHS. For this reason, I will be signing the petition to protect the NHS in TTIP today.