The Secretary of State for Health talks about recent NHS achievements and thanks all NHS staff.
In my final message to you before the election I would like to thank you for pulling out all the stops and achieving remarkable results despite the huge pressures of an ageing population. Last year you carried out over one million more operations than 5 years ago and saw over 6 million more people in outpatient appointments. Alongside this, over 430,000 NHS staff have undertaken dementia training, transforming the way we look after one of the most vulnerable patient groups.
At the same time, we have all faced up to some difficult and longstanding problems about poor care in the wake of the Francis Inquiry - 21 hospitals have been placed into special measures, 7 have already come out and we have over 8,000 more nurses on our hospital wards tackling the issue of short-staffing head on. Over 200 NHS organisations have joined the Sign Up to Safety campaign which aims to halve avoidable deaths over 3 years.
I want the NHS to be the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world where people admire us not just for being the first system offering universal coverage but also for having the highest quality, most patient-centred care anywhere in the world.
Perhaps the best expression of true NHS values has been your magnificent response to the Ebola epidemic. Over 1,600 of you volunteered to go to West Africa and over 150 of you travelled there. Here in England you have worked tirelessly to ensure that you were ready to care for and treat patients who might have Ebola; from the Royal Free, the surge centres in Newcastle, Sheffield and Liverpool, ambulance trusts, GP surgeries and all parts of our system. This has been a united effort of which you can be very proud.
Our hospitals and surgeries are very busy and we have had a tough winter so I want to conclude by thanking you for making the whole country prouder than ever of what our NHS is achieving.