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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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NHS is Britain’s finest achievement

MANY of you have rightly been saying how proud you are to be British this week.

EM John Woodcock
Barrow and Furness Labour MP John Woodcock

I have loved joining in some of the festivities as people brushed off the rain to celebrate the Jubilee.

But the thing that has made me most proud of our great country over the last fortnight pre-dates the Queen’s long reign by a few years.

I am talking of course about the National Health Service, Britain’s finest achievement.

As communities across the land were preparing a grand celebration, I joined the many millions of Britons who have anxiously rushed to hospital and placed the life of their loved ones in the hands of professionals who dedicate themselves to providing the best possible care, regardless of wealth, background or anything else.

We are so grateful to the midwives, doctors and nurses who looked after little Molly in the worrying week after she was born and feel truly blessed that she is now home safe and well.

We should be angry when the NHS’s high standards and principles of care are not met, as has been the case for too many here in recent years, sometimes with tragic consequences for families who are still suffering.

Our positive experience has underlined how important it is for everyone to feel the same and for justice to be done when things fall short.

And we should remain impatient for change, never satisfied that enough lives are being saved or transformed by the wonders of modern medicine.

But like so many, I can only say thank you for the care Molly and Mandy received from committed, lovely people at Furness General.

After a week being treated for an infection at the special care baby unit, mum and baby are doing great.

The wet weather on Sunday meant this embarrassingly proud dad was disappointed not to be able to take his newborn to join in the Jubilee knees-up. But please take it from me – she is a little treasure. Thank you to everyone for your kind wishes.

And thank you, Britain, for the NHS. Above all, we should never forget that it was the choices we made as a nation, and continue to make, that make the NHS the envy of the world.

It took some guts back in the 1940s to decide we wanted a healthcare system that would be free for everyone and give the best to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

More than 60 years on, the NHS helps define what it means to be British. As we start planning the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, let’s raise a toast to that.

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