I want to start by thanking you all for all the fantastic and vital work you do.
I’m sorry I can’t be with you in Liverpool. But I’m really looking forward to getting to know you and working with you in the weeks and months ahead.
It’s a genuine pleasure and a privilege to be your Health and Social Care Secretary.
My belief in our National Health Service, and its founding principles, is one of the reasons I came into politics.
Now, I know you might hear this a lot. But for me, it is truly personal.
Like families up and down the country, I owe our NHS a lot. It has cared for me and my family, and brought my wonderful son into the world.
And I want to make sure that it’s here in fighting fit form for our children and our grandchildren, just as it’s been here for us.
We have got a lot of work to do. As we continue to bed-in the reforms government brought forward last year to create strong and integrated care systems across England.
This will be a shared endeavour.
And it will require all of us to work in partnership. Across our acute hospitals, mental health, community, general practice, and pharmacy.
As we reduce the pressures that I know you’re facing, we give patients the best possible care, and deliver the Urgent and Emergency Care Recovery Plan for winter.
We know winter will be challenging. But this year, we have all started to prepare earlier than ever before.
And using our recovery plan, we can continue to expand capacity, build resilience, and deliver better care. This has to be our number one priority.
And I recognise that this requires working collaboratively with other organisations and sectors. For example, working with the police to support people suffering from mental health crises.
And I’m also very conscious that I’m not just the Secretary of State for the NHS – I’m also the Secretary of State for Social Care.
Our unpaid carers and social care workers look after millions of people every single day. And I cannot wait to work with them too.
Now, we’ll face challenges along the way. But believe me, I am an optimist. Together, we can overcome these challenges, and take the long-term decisions that will build a brighter future for our NHS.
And this is the approach I will take to industrial action.
I’m acutely aware of how the strikes have disrupted patient care, and I’m committed to getting around the table.
Because, I want to see a fair and reasonable resolution.
This winter will be challenging, but I know that rising to such challenges is what you all do so well.
You’ve overcome a once in a generation pandemic. You’ve tackled the longest waits for care it left behind. And you’re delivering reforms that will give patients more choice and control over their care.
We’ve got clear recovery plans in place. Financial certainty for the rest of the year. And the first-ever, fully funded, reform-focused, long-term workforce plan. Something that I know NHS Providers have been a strong champion for.
Now, I started this speech by thanking you. I mean it sincerely to you and all of the incredible people who work in our NHS and social care services.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get on with the job. Now is the time to deliver for patients, and deliver for our NHS.