Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the NHS on Thursday 5 July. On 5 July 1948, the majority of healthcare became free at the point of use for the first time in British history due to a law passed by Clement Attlee’s Labour government and spearheaded by the Minister for Health, Aneurin Bevan. The NHS is rightly regarded as the Labour Party’s greatest achievement.

Seven decades ago the NHS was created in the face of Tory opposition and now it is under unprecedented pressure due to underfunding by the current Tory government.

Emma said: “The NHS is Labour’s greatest achievement. Free of the point at use, accessible to all, based on need not the ability to pay. These fundamental principles about the provision of health care have endured for 70 years.

“When Clement Attlee’s Labour government was pushing the legislation that created the NHS through Parliament, many Tory MPs opposed it. Now we have a Tory government that is putting the future of our NHS at risk.

“Doctors and nurses are working their fingers to the bone in the face of unprecedented pressure due to lack of funding but also a shortage of staff. There are 100,000 vacancies in the NHS. We are short of 40,000 nurses and 10,000 doctors. This Tory government has exacerbated the problem by cutting training posts in the NHS seven years ago and now we are seeing the results.

“As a result the NHS is in crisis. Waiting lists now stand at 4.1 million and 2.5 million patients waited longer than 4 hours in A&E last year. Last year, 80,000 elective operations were cancelled. Mental health services have also been hurt with 15% of mental health nursing posts cut and 5,000 fewer mental health beds since 2010.

“Although I welcome the extra funding announced recently by the government, it is too little, too late and it does nothing to address the growing crisis in social care caused by this government’s eye watering cuts to local council budgets. This means that there are fewer beds in care homes and that those who need them cannot be safely discharged from hospital.

“The NHS needs a comprehensive funding settlement that covers both health and social care, which only a Labour government will provide. A Labour government would ensure that the NHS gets the resources it needs so that it is put on a sustainable footing and can celebrate future anniversaries for years to come.”

July 2018