Guest columnist Léonie Mathers, Labour candidate for Sherwood, on the fight to save the NHS

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This week’s Government budget speech was the Chancellor’s final throw of the dice before Parliament breaks up ahead of the General Election.

In my view, he managed a few of the usual pre-election giveaways, but nothing could hide the fact that after five years of the Tories, working families in Nottinghamshire are worse off and our NHS is going backwards.

The Chancellor spent almost an hour trying to tell us we’re better off and have never had it so good.

But however many times he repeats it, working people round here know they are worse off after five years of the Tories.

Independent experts say the tax and benefit changes since 2010 - including the big VAT rise - have cost local families on average £1,127 a year. No pre-election tax cut can make up for that.

Even worse, according to their own figures, if they get in again the Tories are planning more extreme spending cuts which go way beyond balancing the books and will put our NHS at risk.

In an hour long speech our National Health Service barely got a mention, and it’s not hard to see why.

In my view the Tories’ plan has failed the NHS: in the last 12 months, over a million people waited more than four hours in A&E. More people now have long waits on trolleys or stuck in ambulance queues before being admitted to a hospital bed.

Waiting lists for treatment are at their highest level for six years, and one in four patients now wait a week or more for a GP appointment.

I think we deserve a better plan, which puts working families first and saves our NHS.

I want to see living standards rising for everyone, not just a privileged few. So we should increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour and give 25 hours of free childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds.

Like most people, I’ve relied on our NHS.

I want not only to save it for future generations, but to transform it with 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more GPs and a guarantee of cancer tests in one week.

We should reverse the £3 billion a year tax cut the Tories have given to the top one per cent of earners and instead give local businesses here in Nottinghamshire a cut in small business rates.

And all of us should fight for decent opportunities for every young person—with a guaranteed apprenticeship for everyone who gets the grades, and a cut in university fees.