Today (Thursday 5 July) I and the rest of the country are celebrating the 70th birthday of the NHS and all that it has done for our friends and families over the last seven decades.
I have my own personal experience of fantastic treatment by the NHS when just a few years ago, at the beginning of the Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014, I had to be given emergency surgery for a twisted bowel. The procedure was done expertly and my treatment by staff both before and after was world class. All of us will have similar stories of receiving quality care from our NHS, whether it be for yourself or your friends and family.
Since its conception 70 years ago, the NHS has become a mainstay within our society despite huge changes to the world around it and it is now one of our society’s most identifying features. It is admired across the globe yet remains the most unique health care service around.
I am pleased that, to help celebrate, extra support has been added with a funding boost of £20 billion over the coming years. In Medway, it is ever more important that local health services are able to keep up its good work and this is being aided by a new A&E at Medway Maritime Hospital and a multimillion pound boost to help some of our GPs with new healthy living centres in Chatham and Strood.
Of course there is more we can do to support our NHS and the hugely valuable doctors, nurses and staff who make it work, but I must also add that there is never any plan to drop support or remove free access. Being free at the point of entry is crucial for the millions who use the NHS and there is no reason this will change.
Rochester Castle is lighting up blue this evening as part of the celebrations of the NHS’ 70th birthday, and I hope you will join me in thanking all who work for the NHS for the wonderful work they do as we look forward to many more birthdays in the future.