May 20, 2014

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Suggestions by the government and by UKIP that you pay to visit either your GP or A&E have caused many of you a real concern about the future of our NHS. 

The reality is that £3billion was spent on the re-organisation of the NHS and that money should have been spent on patient care. 

As I discovered earlier this year, the NHS does a wonderful job in an emergency and I received fantastic care thanks to the remarkable people who work there and who care for all of us. But there is only so much that they can do with limited resources and the NHS is about a lot more than emergency admissions to hospital, like the one I experienced. 

That is why it is so important that we make sure that our NHS has the support it needs. 

Private companies are taking over the majority of new contracts from the NHS across the country and this is undermining NHS services. 

We need to reverse the privatisation of the NHS and we need to make sure that we can see our GPs and that A&E is not one step away from a crisis. 

We also need to cut waiting times for operations. 

Four years ago, our NHS was rated as the best health service in the world but funding has been cut since then, leading to huge pressure in hospital and community services. 

A big part of the answer is to bring together health and social care, so that people can be looked after at home, so that hospital admissions are reduced and so that people can go home again from hospital straight away all of which is needed to reduce the pressure at A&E. 

This can happen as the recent report from former Department of Health Director, Sir John Oldham shows. 

Sir John recommends that professionals work closely together in community services so that frail elderly and disabled people are properly looked after at home and that care is based around the individual rather than being organised from the point of view of the separate services involved in looking after the individual. 

He also recommends that the 200,000 people who work in the care sector are properly paid and trained so that they can do a better job of looking after us all as we get older. The report by Sir John Oldham was the result of an enquiry by The Independent Commission for Whole Person Care, which was set up by Andy Burnham. 

Labour will need to follow the recommendations of the report to put the NHS straight again and to make sure that we all receive the best possible care and support when we need the doctor or other health services. 

Ultimately, the health of my family is too important for us not to make the changes recommended and I suspect you will feel the same way about your family.