Every Briton is registered with his or her own family doctor, whom they can see when they need — without paying a fee. These doctors are independent contractors to the health service and are recognized and rewarded for quality in their compensation — so they can focus on what works, not just what pays. Expanding on the facilities that are already in place, by next year every community in England will have a physician’s office open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the year, and you can simply walk in and see a doctor, for free, regardless of whether you are registered.

In the unfortunate instance that a patient is diagnosed with a dire disease, such as cancer, it often takes only a week or two for a patient to be seen by all the right specialists, complete all the required diagnostic tests and be ready for surgery or other interventions. This rivals the best care in the United States or anywhere else in the world.

Under our NHS constitution, patients have a legal right to choice of provider. That means any provider — public, private or not-for-profit. By April 2010 our NHS will be the first health system in the world to systematically measure and openly publish the quality of care achieved by every clinical department in every hospital. It means patients will be able to make meaningful, informed choices on what is best for them and their family. Some of this data is already published.