Nic Mitchell explains why he is so glad Labour built a first-class hospital in Middlesbrough equipped with the latest equipment and expertise to fight cancer when they were last in power.

Nic having radiotherapy treatment at James Cook Hospital

Nic having radiotherapy treatment at James Cook Hospital

I’d like devote this short ‘Cancer-talk’ blog to the importance of the May 7 General Election and its impact on the future of the National Health Service, or NHS.

I will get round to talking about my surgery and its repercussions and offer some tips to help others fighting bowel cancer in a future blog, as promised, but I don’t feel up to writing one of my broad overviews quite yet as I’m still going through post-operation turmoil.

Instead I want to focus briefly on the outcome of the May 7 elections and why it will be so important to hold whatever party, or coalition takes over governing us, to its word about protecting the NHS.

Blood boil

It really makes my blood boil when I hear politicians, usually of the Conservative persuasion, go on about the last Labour Government borrowing too much and spending like it was going out of fashion.

For one thing, the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition has actually borrowed more in the last five years than Labour did in its 13 years in power, as Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK pointed out in a recent blog.

In the 11 years (1997 to 2008) before the economic crash caused by the banking crisis, the Labour government borrowed £190 billion. In 2009 and 2010,it borrowed a further £253 billion.

But that dwarfs what the austerity-driven Tory-Lib Dem Coalition did. They borrowed £570 billion in the last five years.

Spending on what’s important

More important that the comparing the amounts borrowed is what Labour spent the money on.

I live in Middlesbrough and remember the ramshackle old collection of Victorian hospital buildings spread across the town.

James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough

James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough

Today, we have the shiny new James Cook University Hospital, equipped with modern equipment and expertise.

I know there was a hullabaloo at the time about it being built as public-private partnership, but it was built!

And when I came to need it after being diagnosed with bowel cancer towards the end of 2014, I was just glad we had a cancer-specialist hospital on our doorstep.

Clearly, the NHS is under a great deal strain – made worse by the chaotic top-down re-organisation of the health service in the early days of David Cameron’s government never mind him saying that is exactly what he wouldn’t do.

But despite the pressure it is under, I have nothing but praise at the way the surgeons, doctors, nurses, radiographers, chemo specialists and receptionists and everyone else I have come across has dealt with me in my hour of need.

Hospital Trusts face £2 billion deficit

Labour leader Ed Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned that two-thirds of hospital trusts face having to make huge cuts after a leaked internal document showed that the health service is projected to run a deficit of nearly £2 billion this year!

The NHS is already underfunded compared with other leading nations, as The Guardian reported on May 5.

Its report quoted the Economist Intelligence Unit as saying the NHS is lagging behind almost all the other 29 rich nations and that the UK ranks 27th out of 30 in terms of how many resources each healthcare system has to provide care, with:

• 2.8 doctors per 10,000 people, compared with the OECD average of 3.2.

• 8.2 nurses per 10,000 people, when the OECD average is 8.9.

• 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people against an OECD average of 4.8.

• 6.8 computerised tomography (CT) scanners per million people, which is less than half the OECD average.

• 8.7 magnetic resonance imaging units (MRI), again less than half the average.

So, use your vote wisely on May 7th and be prepared to put more pressure on whatever new government is formed to save our NHS when they are elected.

In my case, that means voting Labour.

Don’t let ideology about the benefits of privatisation prevent the health service from being there to help you, too, when you need it, too!

Final word

I can’t praise Sunday night’s BBC drama ‘The C Word’ enough.

BBC's drama, The C word

BBC’s drama, The C word

It told the story of 28-yer-old fellow cancer blogger Lisa Lynch, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, and explained how she, like me, used her blog to help mentally fight the disease.

It is refreshing to see prime-time television being devoted to trying to explain what cancer patients are going through and gain wider understanding that we want to talk about our fight, and share tips and advice with others.

Catch it on i-player if you can. You won’t be disappointed.

Sadly, Lisa (played so well by Sheridan Smith) tragically died when the cancer returned and spread.

But not before publishing her inspiring ‘The C Word’ book based on her blogs.

Hope you found the blog useful. Here is the next blog to the series.

See earlier ‘Cancer-talk’ blogs by Nic Mitchell here.