Of course I welcome the petition which asks me to defend the NHS, resist privatisation and provide sufficient funding - all of which is both my personal commitment and the policy of my party.
Our priority in the new parliament should be to reverse the current privatisation and restore the duty of the Secretary of State to provide a universal NHS. You know, like we used to have.
But then there are major challenges for the NHS:
- We should give mental health parity with physical health.
- We should integrate social and medical care
- We should ensure that treatment is as good at weekends as on weekdays.
I'd like to believe that good policies on food, housing transport, tax, air quality, etc., would reduce the need for spending on treating disease. But I don't. I think they will reduce the need to increase that spending. The growth is driven by our longer lives and the ingenuity of doctors and scientists in devising new treatments - which in turn extend our lives.