Happy Birthday, NHS

Today is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service.

There has been a lot of coverage over the last week in every kind of media source to commemorate this.

From finding people born on the same day to relive their lives through access to the health system to much polemic and debate about restructuring and restructuring again.

A look at the past – and a look at the future in the face of the recent reviews that have come out.

London Ambulance on Hamilton Terrace

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t think I can add anything new to what has already been said – but in some ways, having been born into and grown up with the system as is, I find it hard to imagine things any other way.

I expect to go to the doctor without thinking of cost.

I expect to get a prescription for medication that I need (and still pay my fixed fee for it!).

I expect to be referred to secondary medical services if and when I require.

I am fortunate to be and to have been in good enough health that I can’t  ever remember  having been in a hospital overnight – a few visits to casualty here and there for minor stitching ups really is about as far as it goes.

I have family members who have been recipients of a great deal of care of an exceptional quality – and of course, now, I work within (although not for) the health service.

There are likely to be many changes in the future as the health needs of the population change. Introduction of ‘market forces’ has already started. Management layers are added and exist to increase the drive towards efficiency.

Always new restructuring, always new developments.

Expectations of what a health service can and should deliver are changing too – and this monolithic structure – oft-quoted as being the third largest employer in the world – does need to adapt.

But I think she’s not been doing at all badly, when all’s said and done.

And here’s to another 60 years and many many more beyond.

Happy Birthday – and at some point today, I’ll raise a glass to Nye..

A decorated birthday cake.

Image via Wikipedia

And in other, marginally connected news, The Guardian in its Work and Careers section, spotlights a Social Worker (marginally connected because she is a hospital social worker!).

6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, NHS

  1. I think the NHS is as good now as it ever will be…………………. “I see the bad moon arising. I see trouble on the way.” Privatisation will creep in by the back door under the guise of patient choice and those who have money will be able to choose – those who don’t…………….

  2. It’s changed definitely and not always for the better. I don’t think privatisation is creeping in as much as marching up to the front door – it has been the case for a while and I see it as the way things are going.
    I hope not though will continue to. The government speak often about the importance of the ‘free at the point of delivery’ element – and I think its something a lot of people in the country are very attached to and any government will change at its peril.
    I hope, anyway..

  3. What can I say? At least you have a workable system, which is saying a lot. And in most cases it seems to work quite well. Whenever you get discouraged, just take a peek across the Atlantic to see how royally bungled up health care can get.

  4. Whatever it is and becomes I don’t want it to be something that is lost or taken for granted too much – I know things could be a lot, lot worse.. and there is a massive amount of good work going on in the system. We just need to keep reminding ourselves of that sometimes in the face of pressures to restructure and evolve..

  5. Living in the states, I only know what I read and hear about the British NHS. Medical care in the states can be very high quality and even those without insurance have a legal right to emergency care. Medicaid is available for the poor with the lowest incomes. Although, there are complaints that the quality of care is less for those on Medicaid, I don’t perceive the difference when I compare care.

    I think government-run medical care does have some advantages though. I think prevention would be far more important in a national health care system. Prevention is barely dealt with in the US system and its a real pity. I imagine if the UK system tries to deal with hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking cessation that the overall improvement in public health could be huge. There is no strategy for eliminating those problems in the US because there is no financial benefit for the system.

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I think sometimes there is tendency to suggest that lack of treatment is a problem in the US. It is on some levels, but most people can access at least rudimentary care. Where we really drop the ball is in failing to address prevention. That, in my mind, is the major failing in our system.

  6. I don’t really know much about the US system – or all I learnt I learnt by watching ER.. but I think that prevention is possibly one of the things the NHS does do quite well – for purely financial reasons.
    It’s a cost-saving exercise. It is much cheaper to offer someone support around preventative measures than to treat for chronic illnesses – and it looks like this is the direction the government wants to move in with recommendations being made in the recent planning.
    I suppose the issue is whether in the States people on lower incomes would wait longer to see a doctor too than would be the case here where people might go at a much earlier stage of any illness – thereby enabling the outcome to be more effective.

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