Andrew Marr: It's time to stop the NHS fanfare and focus more on how it can be saved for future generations

5 July 2023, 18:10

Marr Mono

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

It's time to end the NHS fanfare and start thinking more practically about how we can save it for future generations, Andrew Marr has said.

Speaking on the NHS' 75th anniversary, LBC's Andrew Marr assessed the health service's place as a "national religion" - particular since the Covid pandemic.

Andrew started his monologue: "We've been sentimental about it for decades but the pandemic, with all that clapping in the street, supercharged that emotion.

"Some people, including the shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, clearly think that’s a bit off, maybe a bit weird.

"He’s said: 'The NHS is not the envy of the world. It’s a service not a shrine. We’ve got to stop thinking of it as a national religion and make sure that it is an institution and a system that delivers the best outcomes.' Sage words."

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Andrew continued: "Even so Keir Starmer, his leader, joined the prime minister and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh plus nurses, care-workers, and a few luvvies for an actual religious service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey earlier today.

"The political leaders, one a Hindu, the other agnostic, thought this was so important they missed prime Minister's Questions.

"They are not alone: the king and queen celebrated the NHS’s 75th anniversary at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

"Tonight London is being lit up in blue in celebration - the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the BT Tower, The Shard, the National Theatre, Trafalgar square and many, many other places.

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"Elsewhere this weekend, folk will take part in park runs for the NHS and attend NHS big tea party events. If it isn't a national religion we're certainly treating it like one.

"Or at least we are officially because, rather like the Church of England itself, privately this religion is losing the quiet bedrock of belief.

"A recent poll for the Health Foundation found that 71% of us expect that we will have to pay for NHS services within the next 10 years.

"And don't forget, if this were a religion then 'free at the point of use' would be its holiest text of all.

"Earlier today even Steven Barclay, the conservative Health Secretary said he thought the model of the NHS free at the point of care was a source of national pride.

"But it's time to stop singing hymns, stop being gooey and clapping, and the start to think harder about how it can be saved for future generations."