We as City of London and Westminster residents are right to demand the very best of the NHS, given the huge sums of taxpayers’ money it consumes each year (more than the schools, defence and policing budgets combined).
But for too long we have politely accepted the NHS’s limitations, viewing it as a well-intentioned if sometimes flawed organisation doing its best. Most doctors, nurses and support staff are wholeheartedly committed to caring for us in times of greatest need in a uniquely challenging environment. However the capital’s health service was left ill-prepared for the huge wave of migration to London over the past decade and the government has wastefully frittered away our money on items such as the costly Healthcare for London consultation, and the servicing of unpaid bills by overseas nationals at our local hospitals.
Since my re-election in 2005, I have vigorously responded to countless constituents’ concerns about the level of service they receive, pressing their personal healthcare priorities with the Chief Executives of our two Primary Care Trusts. Priorities like decent maternity services for expectant mothers; the future of local GP surgeries; and the opening of new health centres with longer opening hours.
Most importantly, I led the parliamentary campaign to protect the future of both Barts in the City and St Mary’s, Paddington, two hospitals which serve us so well. I was delighted a few weeks ago to walk round the brand new, state-of-the-art cancer centre at Barts which will bring hope and inspiration to so many local people.
David Cameron has made clear that the NHS is his personal priority but he recognises that our pledge to protect health spending will not be enough to deliver the rising standards of care people expect and deserve. We aim to make the supply of healthcare more efficient by introducing reforms which, through decentralisation, accountability and transparency, will help us achieve our ambition: to make the NHS deliver some of the very best healthcare in the world.