I am delighted to be here today for the first ever Nye Bevan awards. Frank tells me that he wants people to see these awards as the Oscars of the NHS. I hope the acceptance speeches have not been as tearful as they are for film version.
I also understand that Miss Farrelly, one of the first people appointed by Aneurin Bevan to be a Board member of the new NHS in 1948, is here to witness these awards. Her contribution and commitment to the NHS symbolises the support that the NHS has had in the hearts and minds of the British people.
Today's awards acknowledge the achievements of health service staff and organisations up and down the country.
And some achievements they are too.
A hospital which has slashed waiting times with its booked admissions programme.
A community mental health team pioneering 24 hour home treatment for people in crisis.
A NHS Trust improving its ability to keep its staff by introducing family friendly policies and involving staff in decisions.
A cancer service with nationally recognised expertise in supporting patients and families.
A health-based community project which has turned round a small estate dominated by strife and fear. And others too.
Real achievements. Inspiring achievements.
Achievements, I am sure you would all agree, which required a lot of hard work and team effort.
It does take effort to achieve change and improvement - and not just in the NHS.
It's tough turning round a failing school, reversing a rise in waiting lists or reducing street crime.
And it can be a real struggle tackling tough problems among young people such as truancy, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy.
But it's worth it. When you get the break-through, when you begin to see results, then all the blood, sweat and tears is worthwhile.
Of course, in one sense your hard work is only just starting. Because having shown that you have something special, your challenge now is to share it with others. To inspire them to change.
These awards are not an end in themselves. They are a prime example of what we want to happen throughout the public service - the best teaching the rest.
So after your well-deserved applause it's back to more work and renewed effort.
What is true for you is true for us. Raising standards in our schools, modernising and rebuilding the NHS, making Britain strong again in Europe, getting our transport system working properly, sustaining peace in Northern Ireland - they are all big problems. And it's hard work sorting them out!
Of course people are impatient for change. It is for them to decide how to express that. But let's just deal in facts.
New investment is going into the NHS, an extra ??21 billion over the next three years and patients are starting to see a difference:
New hospitals are being built. But you don't build a hospital over night.
New doctors and nurses are being trained but you don't train them overnight.
And in any event, real change is happening now.
Waiting lists are 60,000 below the level we inherited. And waiting times are shorter too. Every accident and emergency that needs it is being modernised. Decent pay awards for staff. Doctors and nurses in the driving seat of Primary Care. New equipment coming on stream. NHS Direct already covering 40% of the country.
I hear there are objections in some quarters to NHS Direct. But I have to say that I don't hear them from patients. And we are modernising the health service for the patients.
But of course there is still a lot to do. Big improvements needed in cancer, heart disease and mental health services. Wards to be modernised. New IT systems to be implemented. More reductions in waiting to be delivered.
With your support we can deliver this agenda. Your support will be as vital in the future as it has been so far.
We could not have turned round waiting lists without your effort. It is GP co-ops working with NHS Direct who are expanding the service into exciting new areas.
And just today the Department of Health has announced that applications to set up local walk-in centres are five times oversubscribed. Great enthusiasm for a new idea. Some doctors' leaders may not like this but 91 primary care groups have sent in their plans for setting up these centres which will provide fast and convenient access to medical advice and treatment.
Initiatives which are winning support because they are being developed in partnership with you the people who can make change happen.
It is this which gives me confidence that we can make it quicker and more convenient to use the NHS. That we can deliver better health as well as better health care. And that we can guarantee patients a quality service wherever and whenever they use the health service.
It will take time.
But you are the beacons. You have lit the path for others to follow. And by working together we can make the NHS a beacon to the world.
But that's enough from me. Now back to Katie Derham who is going to tell us about the final two awards.