When Labour left office in 2010 after 13 years in Government, public satisfaction with the NHS was at its highest level recorded – 70%.

After 14 years of the Conservatives, it is now at its lowest, with less than 1 in 4 people satisfied. Thanks to their neglect, our NHS, one of our country’s most crucial institutions, is now on its knees.

Waiting lists are at record levels – locally, nearly 90,000 people are waiting to start treatment. Waiting times for cancer patients have got worse every year since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. Ambulances don’t come when you need them. Suffolk is a dental desert, and there isn’t a single NHS dentist taking on new adult patients in Ipswich. The 8am scramble for a GP appointment is beyond frustrating and often fruitless. Our mental health trust lurches from crisis to crisis. The ‘claps for carers’ have faded into the past as the social care sector has again been forgotten by a Conservative government whose pledge to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’ feels like an equally distant memory.

Of course, the Conservatives are desperate to pin the blame for our crumbling public realm on the pandemic and the war in Ukraine rather than face up to their responsibility. It has been their political choices, their short-termism and their staggering incompetence, over nearly a decade and a half, that has led us to this point.

The facts don’t lie – across the country waiting lists in March 2020 were already 66% higher than in 2012. The UK went into the pandemic with more than 4 million people waiting for care. At the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (which covers Ipswich Hospital), waiting lists were already approaching 54,000 in 2020, 230% higher than in 2012. The truth is, the longer the Conservatives are in power, the longer patients will wait.

If the Labour Party forms the next government, our inheritance will be dire. Nothing seems to work any more and the economy is in terrible shape. However, one of our central missions will be to build an NHS fit for the future. A service that is there when people need it, with fewer lives lost to the biggest killers, in a fairer Britain, where everyone lives well for longer.

That means delivering change so that more people receive care in their community. Labour will improve GP access, bring back the family doctor, open new referral routes, further expand the role of the community pharmacy, and join up community health and social care services.

That means delivering change so that we have the workforce of the future, with the technology they need. Labour will create 7,500 more medical school places and 10,000 more nursing and midwifery clinical placements per year. We will also train 700 more district nurses each year, and recruit thousands more mental health staff and health visitors, and end the workforce crisis in social care. All this will be complemented by a revolution in technology which could enable the NHS to deliver truly personalised medicine, improve efficiency and back office functions, reduce administrative burdens on staff, and speed up care.

That means delivering change so we focus on prevention. Labour will give every child a healthy start in life with a Children’s Health Plan, boost health in the workplace, create a smoke-free Britain, tackle health inequalities and embed long-term planning to ensure there is health in all policies.

No more Conservative sticking plasters: Labour will deliver the long-term, sustainable, impactful change we need. The last Labour government turned our NHS around before. The next Labour government will do it again.

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