NHS staff and patients across the United Kingdom are celebrating the 70th anniversary of our National Health Service. Westminster Abbey and York Minster are among many venues hosting events to commemorate this special day. After all, 70 years of access to free, quality healthcare for all citizens deserves a massive celebration.
70 years ago today, the dawn of a new era for British society entered the hearts of all and has remained there since. As the NHS enters its eighth decade, it will be facing pressing questions about its longevity and sustainability. What many people tend to forget is that we are on the crest of a wave of change.
A new healthcare horizon for the NHS
Over the recent years, greater focus has been placed on increased funding, as well as initiatives to recruit more nurses and staff for the healthcare industry. Another exciting aspect about this wave of change, is how smart technology is starting to relieve the current pressures facing the NHS.
In-house Staffbanks, Direct Engagement solutions reducing agency spend and e-rostering solutions for the healthcare market are leaving a positive impact, no matter how gradual the results. With the help of these innovative solutions, the NHS is beginning to mend itself.
Despite the troubles facing the NHS as of late, we need to show our full appreciation and gratitude for everything it has done for us. Today we celebrate its achievements that make it the world’s largest publicly funded health service, dealing with more than 1 million patients every 36 hours and sharing out over £100 billion a year. Now that’s something to marvel at.
“The reason why the health service does so well is frankly due to the brilliance of the staff … And it’s frankly because of the staff that the nation has just recommitted to the idea of a health service [that is] there when you need us, based on how sick you are, not whether you can afford us – a principle that has stood the test of time.” – Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive
On the 4th of July, Theresa May spoke to a gathering of NHS staff at Downing Street:
“The UK is marking a very special birthday of a very special institution. In a world that has changed almost beyond recognition since 1948, the vision at the heart of the NHS – of a tax-funded service that is available to all, free at the point of use, with care based on clinical need and not the ability to pay – still retains near-universal acceptance.”
Many of us see the NHS as it stands today, but we forget the 70 years of history behind it that made it the giant it is today. It all began when the health minister in 1948, Aneurin Bevan, first opened Park Hospital in Trafford on the 5th of July. From that day forward, the future of healthcare in the UK changed forever.
Celebrate the victories, don’t focus on the pitfalls
People are used to the NHS as they see it today, that they don’t stop to acknowledge what is available to them, free of charge. It means that everybody, no matter their creed or religion, could get their hands on treatment from cradle to grave.
Before that historic moment at Park Hospital in 1948, people had to pay for medical treatment themselves or rely on charity. It was the first system of its kind in the world. We should be swelling with pride that 7 decades on, the core principles of the NHS haven’t changed and the British service is still the envy of the world.
There is no denying that our health landscape has changed dramatically, and the pressures are unprecedented, whether they’re financial or population-related. We shouldn’t forget that these aren’t the only influencing factors. The nature of people’s health problems have changed, which means their demands and treatment requirements have changed too. Today, Britain faces a rising tide of obesity and caring for an ageing population.
It’s no secret; the NHS has faced the hardest battles with bitter disputes, closures of units and investigations into high mortality rates. However, ministers and health leaders have acknowledged the concerning circumstances and pledged to have a more open and transparent health service.
The NHS should not be scrutinised for just its pitfalls. Being one of biggest workforces in the world and a publicly funded institution, it has still managed to uphold its core purpose: to provide millions of people with access to life-saving treatments and medical care when they need it, regardless of how much money they have in their pockets.
Our NHS is a miracle in itself. We need to give thanks to the people who give up their nights and weekends to look after our sick loved ones and help us live healthier lives.
Smart technology shaping the landscape
Today’s leap in technology and innovation also means that people are getting better treatment than ever before. Our healthcare landscape may have changed, but the NHS is keeping up and slowly overcoming these obstacles.
A large majority of the population have a jaded view of our NHS, mostly cynical, but perhaps the people who know the NHS best are those working on the front line. Here’s what two healthcare workers and a patient had to say about the NHS:
“My passion for the NHS is rooted in the diversity of staff I’ve worked with for 42 years. To see how many lives we’ve improved is just phenomenal.” – Lindy Mirabitur
Lindy was born on the same day that the NHS was founded and went on to pursue a career in nursing. She added, “I think the greatest legacy of the NHS is the way it has helped train nurses and doctors from all over the world. I always enjoyed that aspect of the job.”
Freya Lewis, a survivor of the Manchester terror attack who suffered 29 separate injuries that were near-fatal, will be among many others taking part in today’s Westminster Abbey service which begins at noon. She will be paying tribute to the “incredible care” she received at the Royal Manchester children’s hospital. The service is expected to be attended by 3,000 NHS staff from across the country.
Aileen Coomber, 81, works as a mental health nurse at Sussex partnership NHS foundation which means she’s devoted 65 years to the NHS. She commented: “I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to join the NHS as a nursing scholar at the age of 15, three days after the introduction of the NHS. For me, our health service is the pride of the nation, the greatest gift in the western world.”
No institution as big as the NHS could ever be perfect, but we need to give it credit for mending its wounds. Results take time to show, but the NHS is getting there. We need to show our immense appreciation for the NHS today.
We need to place our faith in devoted NHS staff working tirelessly to provide us medical care, and in smart technology that can alleviate the current pressures.
Even despite its pitfalls, we cannot ignore all the good that the NHS has done for British society. We must give credit where credit is due. The NHS is and always will be our nation’s best-loved intuition.
Happy 70th birthday from the Clarity team!