NOW that it is over 60 years old, the NHS must continue to evolve with the times to meet the demands of both an ageing population and harness the opportunities offered by new medicines.
Conservatives like myself use and value the NHS and are committed to healthcare that is free at the point of use.
But we are realistic about the demands on the service and the need for some private involvement.
This means using competition, choice and private provision where they benefit patients: features which have either long been part of the NHS or were introduced or accelerated during the last Labour government.
Some forget that our health service has always involved a mixture of public and private provision, as most GPs are not public employees, and dentistry has remained largely outside the NHS.
Since 2010, the use of the private sector, including charities, in the NHS has risen to six per cent, which is just one per cent higher than where it was at the end of the Labour years.
Opposition to private involvement ignores the fact that having a range of providers can benefit patients, a view supported by Dr Zack Cooper, of the LSE, who said competition leads to “strong improvements in patient outcomes”.
For public services to be equitable and free at the point of use, they do not all need to be provided on a monopoly basis within the public sector, controlled in a rigid way by local bureaucracies.
Prospective Conservative Candidate South Shields