The National Health Service at its best is without equal. Time and again the nation has seen just how much we owe to those who work in it. A skilled and dedicated staff, backed by enormously increased resources, have coped superbly with the growing demands of modern medicine and increasing numbers of patients. There is a great deal of which we can all feel very proud. The National Health Service will continue to be available to all regardless of income and to be financed mainly out of general taxation.
But major tasks now face us—to bring all parts of the National Health Service up to tve high standard of the best, while maintaining the principles on which it was founded.
And to prepare for the needs of the future. We aim to extend patient choice, to delegate responsibility to where the services are provided and to secure the best value for money.
All of the proposals in this White Paper put the needs of patients first. They apply to the whole of the United Kingdom, but there are separate chapters on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to cater for their special circumstances.
We believe that a National Health Service that is run better will be a National Health Service that can care better. Taken together, the proposals represent the most far-reaching reform of the National Health Service in its forty year history. They offer new opportunities and pose new challenges for everyone concerned with the running of the service.
I am confident that all who work in it will grasp these opportunities to provide even better health care for the millions and millions of people who rely on the National Health Service. The patient's needs will always be paramount.