NHS crisis: Politicians must be bold if NHS is to be the best in the world once again – Scotsman comment
The then Prime Minister spoke of visiting the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital following the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack: “There, in the face of the very worst that humanity can do, I witnessed first-hand, the very best. Doctors and nurses working 24 hour shifts to treat the injured... Alongside the horror and anger over what had happened, I felt once again that deep sense of pride we all share in our National Health Service – and a humbling gratitude for the incredible people who work within it.”
While she described the creation of the NHS as the “crowning achievement of the post-war Labour Government”, May stressed the NHS “does not belong to a single political party” and had been born out of a cross-party consensus.
At the time of her speech, the NHS was regarded as a world-beating health service, ranked first out of 11 wealthy countries by the US-based Commonwealth Fund in 2014 and 2017. However, when the assessment was repeated last year, it had slipped to fourth overall and ninth for healthcare outcomes.
But, despite this, public support for the institution and its staff remains high. So a new survey by Savanta which found 66 per cent of people in Scotland would support nurses if they go on strike should not be a surprise to the politicians in charge of the NHS, at Holyrood or Westminster. If they do not know just how much the public value the NHS, they are in for a rude awakening.
Speaking yesterday, May said that if the Conservatives could show people they were “on their side”, then they could win the next general election. We would suggest that demonstrating a clear plan to fix the NHS is the most important and practical way that any party can do this.
This may require politicians to be braver and more honest about the state of the health service than they have to date. But the party that finds a way to restore the NHS to its former greatness will surely, if there is any justice, reap the rewards at the ballot box.
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