Our National Health Service is one of the most precious institutions we have. We all know it, because all of us have been touched by it. I will never forget the care my son Ivan received and the inspirational people who helped Sam and me through some of the most difficult times. The consultants, the community nurses, the care team – every one of them became part of our lives. When you have experienced support and dedicated professional care like that, you know just how incredibly special the NHS is.
So I yield to no-one in my love of the NHS. But I also believe we don’t demonstrate that love by covering up things that go wrong. Or by pretending the NHS can somehow just ignore the big challenges it faces. There are huge issues to solve like how we provide proper personal care for frail and elderly people in our communities. Or how we make sure the NHS is equipped to go on delivering the ground-breaking advances in medicine on which we all depend.
So today as we celebrate the 65th birthday of this great national treasure, we are doing three things to make sure the NHS remains respected the world over for generations to come.
First, we are putting the NHS on the side of the patient by going further than ever before in finding things that are going wrong and fixing them. So we have created a new job for a Chief Inspector of hospitals. We are giving proper protection for whistleblowers to expose poor quality of care and the culture of secrecy which so fatally undermined Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust. Our surgeons and GPs are beginning to share data on outcomes more freely than anywhere else in the world. And our Friends and Family Test gives patients and staff chance to say whether they would recommend a hospital to their loved ones, with all that information published and real consequences for the board of the hospital if the figures are bad.
But don’t let anyone tell you that being on the side of the