Like most families mine had its stories of lives cut short and blighted before the creation of the NHS. So I need no encouragement to celebrate the 70th anniversary of one our greatest institutions.
Early in the summer recess I visited the new specialist hospital at Cramlington. I’m familiar with criticisms of the Northumbria site. It’s not ideal for transport, there are sometimes long waits and some have concerns for the future of local hospitals like Rake Lane. But what I found was one of a new generation of specialist hospitals with all that is needed to deal with the most serious of cases. It was easy to see how the Emergency Departments brings together all the necessary consultants and specialist teams. Staff in Intensive Care and in Maternity spoke of how they use the latest equipment and how the purpose-built space allows them to deliver the best of care. The atmosphere was unexpectedly calm with staff delivering the highest standards of professional healthcare. The debate about the NHS often falls back on either reform or investment. As the Government I supported showed, you need both. You can’t go back in the NHS but you can apply its founding principles in a modern setting. NSEC delivers the kind of specialist care more associated with teaching hospitals in big cities. But it’s ours, it’s local and thanks to its excellent staff it is literally saving lives that might otherwise be lost.