The NHS is one of Britain’s most prized possessions and this year it’s 70 years old.
The organisation is made up of 1.3 million people who dedicate their lives to helping patients on a daily basis, and this anniversary is a reason to celebrate and thank them for making our health system amazing.
The NHS is a fantastic institution that provides great care to patients and, as a nation, we have so much to be proud of.
When Aneurin (Nye) Bevan founded the NHS on 5 July 1948 he said: ‘Illness is neither an indulgence for which people have to pay, nor an offence for which they should be penalised, but a misfortune, the cost of which should be shared by the community.’ The idea of free healthcare was seen as a little far-fetched by some but, despite facing fierce opposition,
Bevan fought for what he believed in. If he hadn’t, the story we tell today would have been very different.
Since 1948, there have been many developments in the NHS. On May 1969, South African surgeon Donald Ross performed the first-ever UK heart transplant, and keyhole surgery was used for first time in March 1989.
However, there is no doubt that the NHS is today under tremendous pressure, facing issues ranging from a growing elderly population and patient demand to limited budgets and low staff morale.
Targets are being missed and in 2017/18 staff also faced the worst NHS winter crisis on record, and the lack of resources put a great deal of strain on the workforce. These are all issues that need to be worked on to make our NHS stronger and more successful.
Our health service is the fifth biggest employer in the world, yet there never seems to be enough money in the system to fi x its problems. It needs a cash injection – because if the NHS suffers as a system, patients suffer too.
As we approach the anniversary, we have yet to hear how much money the Government will be putting into the health service. It’s time for Prime Minister Theresa May and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to understand how this funding will help the NHS.
Surely the NHS deserves more than their empty words? With the right amount of funding, support from the Government, and an NHS culture that promotes self-growth, education and learning, there is no reason why our health service cannot survive another 70 years.
Yes, I’m optimistic, but I do believe there is a lot to be proud of.
Angela Sharda is deputy editor of Healthcare Leader. You can follow her @angelasharda or email her at [email protected]