The National Health Service is one of Labour’s greatest historic achievements. I believe strongly that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, which should be available to all people regardless of ability to pay or condition.

Labour built the NHS. We value it, we saved it, and we will always support it.

The legacy of the NHS under the Conservatives has been catastrophic. Under 18 years of Conservative rule, inpatient waiting lists were up by over 400,000. Waiting time targets of 18 months were not met. Fewer than two thirds of those with cancer were able to see a specialist within two weeks of their diagnosis.

As a result of Tory neglect, the NHS infrastructure was crumbling too. When I was elected to Parliament in 1997, half of the NHS estate was older than the NHS itself.

From being on its knees in the mid 1990s, Labour brought the the NHS to a significantly better condition with more staff on the ground and new hospitals. The Labour government hired 89,000 more nurses and 44,000 more doctors. We ushered in the biggest hospital building programme in history, with 118 new hospital schemes opened.

As your MP, I fought hard for additional specific benefits for the people of Bedford. After ten years of campaigning, I am proud to say that a kidney dialysis machine will at last come to Bedford. Click here to read about my work on this vital issue.

Now, with the destructive changes made by the Conservatives in government, that legacy of success is at risk.

Billions of pounds have been wasted on an unnecessary and unwanted top-down reorganisation of the NHS. Over 4,000 nursing posts have been lost since May 2010, ambulance queues have doubled, and NHS spending was cut in real-terms by hundreds of millions of pounds in David Cameron’s first year in office. David Cameron has broken his promise to protect the NHS.

Only Labour can be trusted to safeguard the NHS for the future and deliver better health and care for all.

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