The foundations in Britain are getting stronger by the day.
The lowest inflation for 20 years. The lowest unemployment since 1974. The lowest interest rates for 20 years.
Three pillars of a stable economy. The three pillars that will deliver prosperity.
On those foundations we are setting out our fresh ambitions for Britain. Earlier in the week we showed how with primary schools turning round we want to focus on secondary schools.
Today we are announcing a departure for the NHS. We are creating a brand new type of hospital. A hospital that focuses exclusively on diagnostic tests and operations for a wide range of conditions such as cataract, hernias and cancer. And because it will operate separately from the Accident and Emergency Department, it means that extra pressures do not result in cancelled operations and heartache for patients. These hospitals will work longer hours, including at weekends, and will involve much more day surgery giving patients the chance to be back in their home to recover. This idea owes much to what you have done here.
In September 1999 I came to open this marvellous Diagnostic and Treatment Centre. Then the centre was treating around 2,000 patients a month, now it is over 3,000. As the numbers treated have gone up so waiting lists and waiting times have come down. Around 1,000 less on the trust's waiting list compared with 17 months ago and waits for eye surgery down from six months to four months.
85% of patients needing surgery leaving their outpatient appointment with the date for their operation booked to suit their convenience.
So change is happening. Improvements are coming through. The glass is half full. But there is still a long way to go.
Making the big improvements in health care we all want to see requires four basic ingredients.
First, extra investment. During our first two years we had to take tough decisions to deal with huge debt repayments we inherited. But having done that, we are now getting in extra money to schools and hospitals. Over five years spending on the health service will increase by a third in real terms.
Second, more staff. Today we are publishing figures that show compared with 1997 there are:
17,100 more qualified nurses and 12,600 unqualified nursing and health care assistants.
6,700 more doctors, including nearly 3,000 extra hospital consultants.
9,600 other health professionals, including radiographers and physiotherapists.
Of course, we still need yet more doctors and nurses. Next year there will be an extra 1,000 nurse training places - 60% more than five years ago. And midwifery places up 30% over the same period. By 2004, 550 extra GP training places - 100 more than set out in the NHS Plan
But it is not just extra staff we need but staff prepared to work in new ways. This is the third key element in modernising the health service. You have demonstrated that here. One-stop tests and diagnosis. Same day results. Procedures carried out as day cases that in other hospitals require overnight stays. Patient assessments before operations to reduce the risk of cancellations. A comfortable environment designed to fit each stage of the patient's care. Support for the patient when they go home.
To achieve do this you have had to change the way you work. Separating out and protecting elective surgery from emergency care. Altering times and arrangements for clinics and theatre sessions. Using staff more flexibly. A partnership with the private sector on using state of the art scanning equipment. Training nurses and radiographers for new roles. Introducing new digital X ray and IT systems.
Later today when Alan Milburn makes a statement to the House of Commons he will set how the revolution in care that you have pioneered here is to be applied all over the country. New buildings and equipment is the fourth crucial element of our strategy for modernising the NHS.
A third of our hospital buildings were constructed before 1948 and a tenth while Queen Victoria was still alive. The massive investment we are making over the next few years will transform the experience of being treated or working in the NHS.
The hospital of the future will provide a new standard of care. No mixed sex wards. A bedside TV and telephone for every patient. Maintenance schedules that guarantee hospitals stay clean and well decorated throughout their life. Lounges for relatives and patients waiting for appointments. Nurseries where staff can leave their young children safely. Electronic records and digital X ray facilities to avoid patient records getting lost. The latest scanning and diagnostic equipment.
I know you have a particular interest in what the Health Secretary has to say!