The NHS must not be used as election campaign pawn | Blaise Tapp

It has been said repeatedly in recent weeks that the looming general election is a 'once in a generation' opportunity for change.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:37 pm
Updated Friday, 15th November 2019, 3:57 pm
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to nurses during a visit to the National Institute for Health Research at the Cambridge Clinical Research Facility, in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. PA Photo. Pic: Alastair Grant/PA Wire

This popular refrain has a ring of cheerful delusion about it – rather like a line one might hear from a shiny-suited chancer trying to flog you a conservatory.

I have never felt so uninspired at the prospect of going to the polls.That could very well change during the course of the next four weeks, although if they continue to bang on about the NHS then I seriously doubt it will.

Our health service is our crowning glory, the one thing which genuinely makes me proud to be British, which is why I always bristle whenever I hear bold promises about its future from candidates of all political persuasions.

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Is there a more undedifying sight than a gurning political MP shuffling around an unnaturally quiet hospital ward for nothing more than a quick photo opportunity?

Boris Johnson made a busy hospital the backdrop for the start of his campaign trail. He adopted the now standard pose for a male politician – shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbow as if he were about to deliver a calf.

Hospitals and doctors surgeries are busy places and the last thing that those who work there need are insincere vote-seekers eating into their precious time.

Last week I had cause to use the NHS twice and on both occasions was reminded how truly lucky we really are. If you haven’t been inside a busy A&E unit recently, you won’t be surprised to learn the pressure they face today is as acute as it ever has been.

What political leaders need to do at the beginning of every campaign is simply declare their support for a publicly funded NHS and promise they won’t pester doctors and nurses until every vote is cast.

The NHS should not be used as a campaign pawn and, while there will always be disagreement about the precise levels of funding needed, surely there cannot be any argument that it will always need more money?

If politicians want us to start taking them more seriously they need to behave more nobly when it comes to the nation’s brightest jewel, the NHS.