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Rehman Chishti MP: Why we should celebrate the NHS at 70

SUPPORT: Theresa May
(left) and health and social
care secretary Jeremy
Hunt visit NHS staff (Photo by: Dan Kitwood/ AFP)
SUPPORT: Theresa May (left) and health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt visit NHS staff (Photo by: Dan Kitwood/ AFP)

Conservative MP for Gillingham and Rainham and party vice-chairman for communities

THIS week we wish our beloved NHS a happy 70th birthday. The NHS first came into being on July 5, 1948.

This was an innovative and pioneering move all those years ago, in a country that was still feeling the effects of World War II, and was not instantly met with widespread support.

However, this radical idea – embodying respect, warmth and compassion for others – underpins society’s deepest constructs.

Seventy years later, the NHS is viewed as our most-loved British institution – and rightly so. The NHS is a service of which we should all be immensely proud. Back then it marked the first time, anywhere in the world, that free healthcare was made available to everyone on the basis of citizenship rather than the payment of fees or insurance.

Since the NHS’s inception there have been advances in every field of medicine, and people are now living 13 years longer than at the end of the 1940s. At the core of the story of the NHS is its impact on the nation’s health.

A few months ago I, along with my co-vice chair for communities, Helen Grant, visited Cancer Research UK in London.

The UK’s treatment of cancer is a world-class operation and survival rates are at a record high, but we know there is still a long way to go. Engaging in discussions there was
eye-opening – not just as a parliamentarian, but as someone who has close friends that have suffered with cancer.

Sadly, awareness of cancer risks and symptoms can be lower in those of us from BAME groups and we are often less likely to go for cancer screening. Our ability to detect
and treat the disease in the very early stages is crucial in fighting this disease. I am very pleased to see that survival rates are increasing with early diagnosis but I accept and understand we need to do more.

I hosted a cancer research parliamentary reception in parliament. I just want to take this opportunity to thank all the amazing voluntary organisations supporting the great work of the NHS.

Earlier this year, prime minister Theresa May set out ambitious new plans to help thousands of men with prostate cancer to get treated earlier and faster. It shows huge
recognition of the seriousness of prostate cancer, and a renewed focus to stop it from being a killer.

Our NHS – free at the point of delivery – is blessed with phenomenal doctors, nurses and researchers who give their heart and soul to their patients. The service you receive does not discriminate on your background; whether you are rich or poor, care is the same for us all. It is right that we take the opportunity to recognise and thank the extraordinary people who are there to help us every day.

To mark its 70th birthday, the prime minister has announced a historic long-term funding boost and a ten year plan for the health service. This will see the NHS budget increase in real terms by over £20 billion a year, over the next five years.

Only the Conservatives are taking a balanced approach to the economy so that we can make sure we can fund our vital public services properly.

The NHS is the best of us, not just as a concept but for its people too. It was the amazing NHS and its staff which helped save my eye sight when I had a detached retina and saved the life of my nine-year-old nephew when he was seriously ill in hospital.

We all have our own experiences and I know we all will be wishing the NHS a very happy birthday.