Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 1st October 2014

The NHS is facing challenging times. While the organisation hasn’t endured the scale of cuts other parts of the public sector have had to go through, four years of budget freezes during a period of high inflation have had an impact and that’s before considering where the real strain on NHS resources lies.

The UK’s population is living increasingly long lives and we should celebrate that fact, but for that to continue it relies upon the state investing heavily in the modern health service required to keep an aging population healthy.

Some of this investment can be freed up through changing the way the system works. Locally, the NHS is consulting on possible changes to the way health services are provided in Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex, focusing more on preventing serious conditions from developing through investing in GP services rather than the high costs associated with hospital treatment.

Yet, there is a limit to how efficient the system can become and without new money the effectiveness of the NHS at meeting the population’s needs will start to suffer. In his speech to party conference, Ed Miliband unveiled Labour’s plan to save the NHS by creating a £2.5 billion ‘Time to Care’ fund in order to pay for an additional 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs by 2020.

As with other Labour commitments, this is a funded plan which will be paid for by closing tax avoidance loopholes, raising additional revenues from tobacco companies and a Mansion Tax on properties worth more than £2 million. The Mansion Tax threshold will rise in line with house prices, exclude those on low incomes and work progressively to ensure that contributions are in line with what households can genuinely afford to pay.

The NHS is one of our national treasures, it has saved generations of British citizens from the desperation of being unable to afford the medical treatment they need at the point that they need it. Labour’s ‘Time to Care’ fund will enable the NHS to build the modern, caring service the UK needs to help serve not only current, but future generations.

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