Eighteen months ago, I worked with MPs on a cross-party basis to write into law a duty to produce a long-term workforce strategy to address the record levels of vacancies in our NHS.

Disgracefully, the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent eight months whipping his MPs against writing this commitment into law and used the Conservative’s majority in Parliament to block it. And so it was bittersweet to finally see the government publish a NHS workforce plan this week.

Herts Advertiser: St Albans MP Daisy CooperSt Albans MP Daisy Cooper (Image: UK Government)

The backdrop wasn’t great: it was recently reported that NHS waiting lists had started going up not down, and doctors voted for more strike action over pay and conditions.

The crisis in our workforce has been getting progressively worse for some time but got much worse during the perfect storm of Covid and Brexit.

Many EU citizens employed in our health and social care sectors left UK altogether choosing to return to their home country. But even before Covid and Brexit, many of us struggled to see a GP, dentist or nurse when we needed to.

The root of this is an unprecedented health and social care workforce crisis. Under the Conservatives, training places for new medics have been so severely constrained that many of those who apply can't get onto the training courses.

And many of those who complete basic training can't get a place on advanced training. Some of those who do start working for the NHS decide to leave because the pay and conditions are better in other sectors, or indeed in the health service of other countries.

So finally, the government published a strategy – but just imagine what could have been achieved if, instead of resisting, they’d done this a year ago. Or earlier still.

Quite frankly, it’s come much too late for millions of people across the country who have been waiting in pain for treatment, or who sadly died in hospital corridors because the government stubbornly refused to act.

I’ll be examining this 150+ page plan closely. But after promises of new hospitals that were never built, and extra GPs who have never been recruited, like you I will judge the government on their actions – not their words.