David Cameron: 'My personal commitment to the National Health Service'

From a speech by the leader of the Conservative Party, delivered at the King's Fund in London
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The Independent Online

I have a child who's not too well, so I've seen a lot of the NHS from the inside. In fact, in the last three years, I've probably spent more time in NHS hospitals than any politician apart from the few doctors in the House of Commons.

I've spent the night in A&E departments and slept at my child's bedside. I've got to know the people who dedicate their lives to helping others. I've met so many miracle workers who are the real jewels in the NHS crown. Not just consultants, doctors and nurses but all the unsung heroes, too. Porters, cleaners, and the army of voluntary workers who give their time and energy so unselfishly.

I've spent this morning with two people who work in the National Health Service - Jack and Doreen. They drive an ambulance, taking severely disabled children to school. They're not just drivers, they're carers, helpers and friends to all those whose lives they make easier. So I know, from personal experience, just how important the NHS is to everyone in this country.

There isn't a single person in Britain, however rich or powerful, who can safely say that they won't, at some time or other, call upon the NHS. And when they do, what they ask of the NHS is the most important thing in the world to them. They ask to be taken care of. The fact that we have in this country a health service that takes care of everyone, whatever their needs, whatever their background, whatever their circumstances, is one of the greatest gifts we enjoy as British citizens.

We should never forget it, and never take it for granted.

The NHS does not belong to one political party. Conservative governments since the war have built it up, as have Labour ones. But there still seems to be a question mark over the Conservative Party's commitment to the NHS.

So as we embark on this process of change, becoming a modern, compassionate Conservative Party in tune with the aspirations of the British people, I want us to leave no one in any doubt whatsoever about how we feel about the NHS today. We believe in it. We want to improve it. We want to improve it for everyone in this country.

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