Peter Bell in his letter ‘Our awful death rate did not have to be’ (Craven Herald June 25) lays claim that the Labour Party is ‘the party of the NHS’.

Whilst I agree with many of the statements and sentiments in Peter’s letter I believe that it is important to correct his assertions about the origins and later, the politics of the NHS.

William Beveridge was in many respects a controversial figure but can undoubtedly lay claim to be the father of the NHS. Although he held some views that most liberal-minded folk would now find difficult to live with, it was his 1942 report ‘Social Insurance and Allied Services’ that was the blueprint for the welfare state. The components, including the NHS, were introduced in the post-war parliament. Beveridge was a member of the Liberal Party. For a short time towards the end of the second world war he was Liberal MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed. As Lord Beveridge he later became leader of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords.

As far as subsequent political management of the NHS is concerned I can speak from personal experience, having worked in the NHS since qualifying as a doctor in 1977. I, and many of my fellow healthcare workers, have long resented the fact that the NHS is used as a political football. For over 40 years I have worked in a system that has been subject to multiple organisational changes under all complexions of government, each of which has taken time and energy from our primary purpose, to look after the health of everyone.

I am not the first to say that the Covid-19 pandemic is a chance to make long overdue changes in our society. But this is our chance to look forward, not back. We should be striving to support an effective health service free at the point of delivery, to provide high educational standards for all our children, a society in which race plays no part in determining opportunity and of course a healthy green economy to provide the funding to meet these aims. I am not sure that maintaining the old two-party system is part of the solution. I don’t want to be the NHS to be their football any more.

Andrew Murday

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Skipton and Ripon