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6 March 2015

The NHS is under threat – from the Conservatives, and Ukip

The NHS is Labour's finest achievement. But it's under threat from five more years of the Conservatives

By Jon Trickett

Ask Labour members and activists what the party’s greatest achievement is and you’ll get many different responses. The minimum wage, peace in Northern Ireland, the abolition of capital punishment and the liberalisation of homosexuality laws – all these will feature but top of most people’s list will be the establishment of the NHS.

It is the perfect embodiment of what the Labour Party stands for: fairness, solidarity and compassion.

But we are now facing a battle for our NHS.

We know what the Tory-led Government has done to the NHS –waiting times have increased, it’s harder to see your GP and they’ve fostered a crisis in A&E departments – all done under the disastrous Health and Social Care Act.

This is because the Tories fundamentally disagree with our health service’s central principle: that you are treated according to your need, not the size of your wallet.

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Five more years of this government and the NHS will not exist as we know it.

That is a worrying thought. But equally concerning is that there is another political party that seeks to go even further. That party is Ukip.

Ukip supports increased privatisation in the health service. Indeed, Nigel Farage has already made clear that he personally believes in increased NHS privatisation. Even his Party secretary has said the NHS was the ‘biggest waste of money in the UK’, comparing it to Hitler’s Nazi bunker.

Ukip health policy couldn’t be clearer. Nigel Farage has already said that he wants to “move to an insurance-based system of healthcare”, much like the system in the USA. It will mean an end to our universal healthcare system and the emergence of two-tier health care.

There is no doubt it will hit working people the hardest. Yet, despite these policies, Ukip brands itself as a party of working people. 

But only Labour is the party of working people.

That is why the Labour Party has promised to rescue the NHS for everyone by creating 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. And we will make sure the NHS is always the preferred provider for services that patients need.

With a Labour government, patients will always come before profits.

But we can only do it this if we are in government. And we can only get there with the support of people with enough faith left to fight for it.

That is why we are asking people from that other great bastion of solidarity in this country – the trade union movement – to join us today as affiliated supporters.

Having members from our affiliated unions with us, fighting for the Labour Party and for the NHS in the run up to the election, will put those values at the heart of our campaign.

Jon Trickett is shadow minister without portfolio. You can sign up as a registered supporter here.