2018 marks 70 years since the creation of the National Health Service (NHS). Rightly, there have been celebrations of this landmark. Back in 1948 the prospects of major organ transplantation, joint replacements, dialysis, lifelong medication to hold back disease were a distant dream.
Now they are funded using essentially the same model as set up in 1948 – from general taxation free at the point of delivery.
As politicians, we always agree what a fantastic and valued service it is.
We agree that the staff are brilliant.
And then we rip into each other on whatever pretext we can find to try and prove that one side cares more about the NHS than the other.
I don’t buy it. I think all politicians care deeply about the NHS. I think we all want the best for the service, the staff who work within it and patients. Most of us, like most of the general population, use it. So do our children, our parents, our siblings.
Sadly, the political knockabout often dwarfs the news of positive advances and initiatives which is a great pity.
It is a pity because locally the successes are many and the NHS team delivering them deserve credit.
For instance, our local hospital has just been named as being one of the top 40 hospitals for 2018 by a healthcare specialist.
The award is based on an analysis of a basket of indicators and compares hospitals across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those indicators are the things we care about the most – outcomes, safety, quality of care. It is quite an accolade.
We have had similarly good news on NHS dentistry locally. Following the closure of the last NHS dentist in this constituency I campaigned to get new provision opened quickly by NHS England. They have a duty to provide adequate NHS dentistry.
Although I felt that they took too long to bring forward new provision, by early summer new NHS dentistry places were available locally.
Our hospital too is at the cutting edge of medical technology. It is part of the 100,000 Genomes Project, where patients with inherited diseases and cancers have their genes and DNA studied. It is hoped that this project will lead to a step-change in the way patients are cared for.
The project is run by Genomics England working with NHS England, Health Education England and Public Health England to deliver the project. It is a national and local partnership.
Another first for Harrogate’s NHS is the launch of the first NHS-approved complementary therapies school.
It is called the NHS Natural Health School and is based at the fabulous Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre.
I am not trying to gloss over the challenges of providing a comprehensive service with increasing demand and complexity in the face of an eye-watering national debt.
Nor am I trying to pretend that there are not issues which we need to address.
What I am trying to do is show that politicians of all stripes care about the NHS and that it is a pointless exercise to continually pretend everything is going badly. It is pointless because that is not the case, as the data shows and as the overwhelming experience of those using the service shows too. And for that we have to thank the taxpayers who contribute billions each year and the clinicians and administrators who ensure those billions are translated into fantastic healthcare for over 60 million people.