On the challenges faced by the NHS…
“One of the greatest achievements of our NHS and the 20th Century is now also one of the greatest challenges for our NHS in the 21st Century. It’s great people are living longer - but it means the NHS is having to cope with people in their 80s and 90s that it never had to cope with before. They don’t simply have medical needs, but care needs which the NHS is not used to tackling.
“A hospital can only be as good as the services around it: access to the GP; care in the home; prevention, not just cure. If those things aren’t right, all of the problems end back up on the hospital. There is a greater need than ever before to make sure services are joined up so that people with chronic conditions can continue to live independently at home. And there are ever greater advances in medical awareness and technology: illnesses we once didn’t know existed we now know how to treat. So people’s expectations of care are rightly higher than ever before.
“And we know money will be tight. The last Labour government was able to deliver some very big increases in health service spending. The next Labour government won’t be able to match that scale of increase. We will have to do things in a new way to make our health service better, to save money where we can – and make sure that every single penny is well spent.”