Introducing Labour's Health Manifesto, Gordon Brown writes:
"The NHS embodies our values of fairness and social justice with care on the basis of need, not ability to pay: a universal health service, not a third-rate safety net.
"Only a decade ago, the very existence of the NHS seemed to be in doubt. Now with sustained investment and reform, the NHS is working for all the people of Britain – delivering higher quality healthcare which is far easier to access in safer and more convenient settings.
"For sixty years, the National Health Service has been part and parcel of what it means to be British. Its principles - tax-funded with care provided according to clinical need - remain as valid today as in any previous generation.
"In an insecure, fast-paced world people need a world-class health care system that is for them and their family. They need a guarantee not a gamble. The hardworking majority in our country simply cannot afford to opt out and go private -they want an NHS offering the highest quality personal care free at the point of need.
"To prosper in the future, the NHS will have to respond to the same challenges that face healthcare systems across the developed world.
"Medical advances have eradicated some illnesses while opening up new possibilities in the treatment of others. Many experts predict that medicine will change more in the next 20 years than in the last 200 years. An ageing society and so-called “lifestyle diseases” are changing the nature of illness and disease and mean improved health requires a far greater focus on prevention and early intervention. Taken together these factors demand radical reform and change across the NHS if we are to meet the aspirations of the public to world-class healthcare. They require an increase in the pace of change.
"In the NHS of the next decade, real power must lie in the hands of patients, not the bureaucracy, and the NHS must focus far more than it has in the past on prevention and early intervention. No longer can we sustain the approach of patients as the passive recipients of services.
"Increasingly patients and their families and carers must be seen as active partners in their care with enforceable guarantees, real choice and control over services.
"So Labour will fight for a better NHS - for an NHS on the side of the patient, not the system. This is Labour’s personal NHS guarantee to you."