SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: There are good people in other parties

The first health minister, then the Liberal Christopher Addison, in 1919 took action that could be seen as the first public commitment to the essential elements of a National Health Service.

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

My father worked in his ministerial private office nearly 30 years later when as Labour’s dominions secretary, Viscount Addison had responsibility for the Commonwealth.

One of the tasks of the assistant private secretary was to respond to some correspondents: ‘I am directed to write that your unsolicited letter has been received; it has not been selected for a substantive response.’

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The Conservative health minister Henry Willink early in 1944, the year of my birth, welcomed the report by Sir William Beveridge, holding up the White Paper declaring the NHS will be created.

It is unimportant that Labour had the third health minister who took action to bring the vital service to life.

It is important that with all party support the NHS Act passed in 1946, coming into being two years later in 1948, the year my wife was born.

It is appropriate that an inspired family doctor once saved her life and that she went on to be a dedicated health minister for five years.

The late change made by Aneurin Bevan was to reverse the previous expectation that family doctors might become public employees and that there could remain a diversity of hospitals available for acute care, all without charging patients.

There has been a broad welcome for the announcement of secure growth in funding and the expectation of an agreed long-term plan for continuing improvement in health services, together with better arrangements for social care.

As member of parliament, with my caring case work team, I know when things go wrong.

Much more often, we know of the gratitude expressed in golden letters for the cure and for the care given to patients.

I add my appreciation for the love and support given to staff, to patients and to the families by the multi-faith chaplaincy service in the hospital.

It was right of Theresa May to speak openly about the support given to the NHS in the past 70 years and to be given in the years to come by the political parties.

Health services can help us to have healthier lives, to cure many diseases and to correct many conditions.

This week I have also given time to learning more about cyber security and about the continuous changes and improvements to resources for our sailors, soldiers and air force personnel.

On Tuesday evening, the all-party armed forces group were startled and impressed to hear the range of logistics responsibilities of a female lieutenant submariner.

Her rear-admiral also spoke about the stability of his service. Turnover had been too high at over 15 per cent; the target was 5 per cent and the recent experience is below that.

I take satisfaction that MPs from Northern Ireland and Scotland, with Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservatives can sit together and then aim to work together for the common good.

You might see the occasional battle of words; let me assure you that cooperation and continuity of purpose are most common.


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