I was proud and humbled to be out in the streets of Edinburgh today encouraging people to sign a birthday card for the 60th anniversary of the NHS. It was Clement Attlee's Labour Government created the NHS out of the Labour values of equality, justice and fairness, not simple because it was a better way to manage health care and it is those values that need to be at the heart of any debate about the future of the NHS.
A some-one who has readily used the services of the NHS for many years both for my own ailments and those of my children I cannot sign its praises highly enough. I know that it doesn't get everything right and that, because of its size, managing its bureaucracy is very difficult but thanks to its existence literally millions of peoples lives are better, healthier and longer.
We saw how the market philosophy of the Thatcher years nearly destroyed it (and interestingly one of its main architects!)and there is no doubt that there continues to be much to do. But I would rather be trying to reform what we have than for example the American system where millions live without access because of their poverty or many continental systems where access is by the gatekeeper of insurance and where, for example, I have seen with my own eyes, ambulance drivers refuse to take some-one to hospital until they could show that they had cash in their wallet and an insurance card.
The values of the NHS are values that I believe in. that when we help others, even those we do not know, so we ourselves are helped, for what happens to our neighbour or to the stranger happens to us also.
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