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The Politically Speaking column with Paula Sherriff MP

Cherished institution: The NHS has stood the test of time but more funding is needed to protect it for generations to come.
Cherished institution: The NHS has stood the test of time but more funding is needed to protect it for generations to come.

The NHS remains one of Britain’s most cherished institutions and Labour’s greatest ever achievement.

It has stood the test of time as the most powerful engine for social justice we have ever seen.

As we celebrate the 70th year of our NHS, I want to pay tribute to our hardworking staff, whose tireless dedication and compassion has touched all of our lives.

Of course the creation of the NHS in 1948 was neither inevitable or uncontroversial. The Conservatives voted against it 22 times.

Indeed, their health spokesperson said of the NHS Bill “we are taking a step from which there will be no going back. I believe it would be a fatal step”.

Today, their failure to properly resource public health budgets, training budgets and crucially social care budgets mean the Government’s claims of a long-term plan for our NHS are hollow.

Their recent announcement of extra funding for the NHS won’t fix health services in our area.

It’s just a sticking plaster on the wounds caused by eight years of Tory underfunding of our NHS.

Patients will fear that it’s the same old Tories, failing to support our NHS just as they did 70 years ago.

I’m glad to have worked in the NHS before becoming an MP, and to have seen first-hand the care and compassion of staff and to have witnessed the difference this can make for patients and their loved ones. Visiting our local hospitals in ever more challenging times, I continue to be impressed by the devotion of staff to their work under the pressure of seemingly endlessly mounting workloads.

One doctor from whom I will always take inspiration, is the late Kate Granger, who together with her husband, Chris Pointon, launched the #hellomynameis campaign.

Kate knew from her experience as both a patient and a doctor, that for patients and their families meeting medical staff, a simple thing like saying ‘Hello, my name is…’ can ease what can often be a difficult time.

Chris, a local resident, has continued to spread the message of the campaign far and wide – encouraging understanding and kindness and has established International #hellomyneameis Day which takes place on 23 July.

I’m delighted that Chris has recently received a Points of Light award in recognition of his inspirational community action and the impact this has had on improving the experience of patients.

In its 70th year, we should all remember the millions of lives bettered and lengthened by our NHS and those who work to make it the beloved institution that it continues to be.

I will always stand up for our NHS, and fight to protect it for generations to come.

As always, if there’s anything I can do to help readers or their families in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office on 01924 565450, email paula@paulasherriff.org.uk or write to me; Paula Sherriff MP, The Old Dewsbury Reporter Building, 17 Wellington Road, Dewsbury, WF13 1HQ.