No one can doubt the Conservative Party's commitment to the NHS. In the toughest financial climate we've faced in years our party was the only party to commit to increasing the NHS budget. More money to the frontline and less spent on management and bureaucracy. A commitment we are delivering in Government, which remains unwavering today.
However, we'd be doing the NHS a disservice if we failed to speak out when things go wrong. The publication of the inquiry report into what happened at the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust under Labour has shown that things did go wrong - badly wrong. And it's now up to the Conservatives to ensure that this can never happen again.
The report is clear that the appalling standards of care at Mid Staffs were not just a failing of that particular hospital but were also a failing of the wider NHS system. The system Labour created focused on targets, ticking boxes and processes, while the core values of the NHS, those of care, compassion and respect were lost.
We are already doing things to put this right. Since we came to power we have ended Labour's culture of meeting targets at any cost, developed a new vision for compassionate nursing and introduced a tough new programme for tracking and eliminating falls, pressure sores and hospital infections.
But we are going to do more. We will put patient care back at the heart of the NHS. Staff and managers throughout the system need to know if you're failing on care then you're failing full stop.
That's why: We will make sure nurses are hired and promoted for showing compassion - not just on their academic qualifications. And we will encourage a style of leadership from senior nurses which means poor practice is not tolerated and is driven off the wards.
bullet We will ensure those values go right to the top of an organisation by creating a regime where the suspension of a hospital's board can be triggered by failures in care, not just by failures in finance.
We will set up the new post of a Chief Inspector of Hospitals, who will make a judgement on care standards in an organisation. And to help them make that judgement we will give every patient, carer and staff member the opportunity to feed into that process by saying whether they'd recommend their hospital to their friends and family.
We made our commitment to the NHS because we want it to have the resources it needs to evolve and improve in the years to come. I hope the legacy of our response to the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry will be to refocus on the values it needs to achieve this. 9 February 2013