From a nation torn by war, 75 years ago, the Labour Government would not truck with inequality or injustice, and asserted that health should be available for all, free at the point of need.

On 5 July 1948, Labour’s Health Secretary, Nye Bevan determined that, no matter your means, you would be able to access free healthcare.

The NHS remains the envy of the world. It speaks of the values we share, and each day puts these into practice. However the assaults it has endured in recent years has left it fragile, stressed and in parts, breaking.

As we celebrate this remarkable achievement we often look to our hospitals, and the creaking buildings they occupy.

York Hospital opened 47 years ago - replacing nine local hospitals - with a building cost of £10.5m, and was kitted out for £2m. Today, its clinical areas are cramped and challenging, apart from the new A&E which opened this week.

The state of the art upgrade, designed by the very people working in the unit, has been designed to rapidly assess, admit or discharge those who walk through its doors.

It has cost £18m, more than the whole hospital cost to build, and is equipped with the latest technology.

Please don’t try it out unless you absolutely need to, however, for there are far better ways of accessing the NHS, unless you have either a serious accident or medical emergency. The clue is in the name: Accident and Emergency.

It is the staff that give the NHS life, as Sister Margaret Locker reminded us in opening the unit.

She’s served the NHS as a nurse for 52 years and continues to do so.

NHS staff have always been there for us through the most important moments of our lives, from cradle to grave, and no more so than through Covid.

Those founding principles of professionalism, love and care are at its core, each and every day.

Between the opening of York’s new A&E and the 75th celebrations, the Government announced its workforce plan.

After 13 years of cutting posts, it has now woken up to the fact that safe staffing levels are crucial, not just to replace those who leave but to meet the demands of an ageing population and a new generation of interventions.

I spent 20 years serving on the wards and in intensive care, and would argue there is no greater career. I believe the workforce plan should inspire a new generation to explore taking up one of the 350 NHS career choices; joining the NHS family.

However, the Government’s plans will not land a new workforce for another decade; its woeful.

I know the reality of the time it takes to train, but staff are needed now. Most of the plan's training ambitions won’t even start until after the next General Election.

Having cut the NHS since 2011, the Tories have squandered their time in office, bringing the NHS to its knees: 7.4m patients waiting for vital elective care, social care stretched beyond repair and mental health services so thin on the ground.

Hope is on its way. I worked in the NHS at the tail end of the last Tory Government. The long patient waits, severe staff shortages and crumbling hospitals.

From 1997, Labour fixed the NHS. Each week, I would see improvements, staff could breathe again, and patients were seen when they needed care.

You could get an appointment when you had need and vital treatment was not denied.

You could even see a dentist or GP and the NHS, whether at home or in hospital, had the staff to care.

We opened medical schools and nursing courses. We innovated and invested.

Labour wants the NHS to be the envy of the world again. When we left office, the NHS had an all-time high patient satisfaction rate, and was heralded as the most cost-effective health system in the world. That is the difference a Labour Government can make.

Labour’s ambition has never waned. As Nye Bevan said 75 years ago, “the NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it”.

The Tories might have given up, but we have kept the faith and we will fight alongside every patient and every member of staff.

This is all too important for us, as it speaks of our values and our purpose.

So let us embrace Labour’s ambition, to end health inequality and injustice, value the dedication of the staff, and rebuild the NHS to once again become the best in the world. Happy Birthday NHS.

Rachael Maskell is the Labour MP for York Central