NHS 70th birthday speech by Cllr Helen Armitage

The following speech was delivered to the council by Labour’s Health Spokesperson Cllr Helen Armitage proposing a motion to celebrate the 70th birthday of the  NHS.

“This council congratulates the National Health Service on it’s 70th birthday and extends it’s thanks to all those who have ever worked in the service.

“We are all proud that this incredible institution was founded on the principle that every man, woman and child have access to the highest standard of free healthcare, irrespective of their ability to pay.

“We call on the cabinet member for health to write to the secretary of state urging him to increase funding for the NHS and social care in order to ensure the survival of the service for the next 70 years and beyond.

“When the NHS was launched 70 years ago by Aneurin Bevin, who could have envisaged how the health service of this country would be transformed and how many lives it would save.

“Bevin’s 3 core principles of the national health service,… that it meets the needs of everyone, … that it is free at the point of delivery … and that it be based on clinical need, not the ability to pay have guided the way for the NHS over the last 70 years. It has given us the health service that we have today and hopefully will have into the future, for generations to come.

“Today, our health service is one of the largest employers in the world, employing over 1.3 million people.

“Most of us here probably know at least one person who works for or has worked for the NHS; most of us here probably also know at least one person whose life has been saved by the NHS. I certainly know more than one and the life of my youngest nephew would have been over almost before it began without the amazing staff and facilities of the neonatal unit at Ipswich Hospital. Today he is a rough, tough little boy, but things were very different when he arrived in this world, over a month premature.

“His story is similar to many thousands of children and their mothers, whose lives would have turned out very differently, and often much shorter, in the days before the NHS was launched. And that is just one element of what our health service does for us.

“We, as a country, have much to be grateful to our health service for. It is respected around the world for the standard of care and last year was found to be the most impressive health care system by the Commonwealth Fund in comparison with countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the USA. Yet we spend less of our GDP on our health budget compared to most other European countries and the United States.

“It is undeniable that the system is under strain and facing considerable challenges due to lack of sufficient funding, failing those that we have a duty of care to, putting lives at risk.

“Bevan felt that we have a moral responsibility to look after those who are sick; have our attitudes changed in the last 70 years?

“We hope not. We are simply asking you to write to the new Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock urging him to support the wonderful institution, to give it the funding it needs to be effective and efficient for the next 70 years.”




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