National Health Service

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 26th January 1993.

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Photo of Mrs Virginia Bottomley Mrs Virginia Bottomley The Secretary of State for Health 4:58 pm, 26th January 1993

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:

congratulates Her Majesty's Government on its reforms to the National Health Service which have led to record numbers of patients being treated, the elimination of two year waiting lists in the regions, a substantial reduction in long waiting times generally and significant improvements in the quality of care; looks forward to more general practitioner fundholders and National Health Service trusts and the further improvements they will bring; and believes that in the modern health service the focus should be on patients and prevention and not on politicisation, which remains the dominant concern of Her Majesty's Opposition.". The Opposition motion refers to a crisis in the health service, but in reality the debate is more about a crisis in the Labour party and the particular crisis facing the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett). The dilemma for Labour health spokesmen is that they are condemned to pass as an unread chapter unless they cart generate a crisis. The hon. Gentleman has deepened his troubles today. His speech was wanting in substance, it was wide of the mark and none of my hon. Friends is any the wiser about Labour party policy on health than he was at the start. Labour party policy on health is a policy-free zone. Hundreds of thousands of staff and millions of patients and their families and friends will have found it difficult to recognise their national health service from the hon. Gentleman's speech.

Throughout the country, millions each year rely on the care that they receive from the health service. Time and again, the Opposition take individual cases, exploit them out of all recognition and paw upon personal detail to try to create a crisis in the service.

I will tell the hon. Gentleman about one of the individuals that he mentioned in his speech. I do not want to intrude on the privacy of all the many other individual cases in which his party trades. I will tell him about my mother who, like many others, could not speak more highly of the care that she received not only at Queen Mary's but also at Guy's, where she had been extremely ill beforehand. My mother spoke, as so many others do, with respect, affection and admiration for all that is achieved by NHS staff, and she was not best pleased by the way in which her privacy was intruded upon at a moment of considerable illness.