NHS chiefs today headline celebrations of the health service’s 75th anniversary.
Introduced by Aneurin “Nye” Bevan at Park Hospital in Davyhulme, Manchester on 5 July 1948, Britons have had free healthcare locally for three quarters of a century.
During this period, the NHS was a shining light around the world and at the forefront of medical revolutions.
From the introduction of the birth control pill in 1961 to the first person in the world to receive an approved Covid vaccine on December 8, 2020, public health has been central to advancements in healthcare.
Here, NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard shares her thoughts as healthcare celebrates a historic milestone.
“The history of the NHS has always been one of innovation”
Today we celebrate the 75thth Anniversary of our NHS.
A day to reflect on the achievements of our incredible staff and volunteers – but also to look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.
The NHS has achieved many milestones in the first three quarters of a century and is not only a world leader in free access to healthcare but also in breakthrough innovation.
The world’s first test tube baby. The first modern hip replacement. The first CT scan. The first heart surgery performed by a remote-controlled robot.
It was the NHS’ ability to respond at scale that allowed us to lead the fight against the pandemic, linking over 170 sites and datasets to find the first effective treatment – thought to be saved over a million lives worldwide.
These global breakthroughs were all thanks to the existence of a single national health service.
So is the delivery of the world’s first Covid vaccine outside of a clinical trial, which was part of a record-breaking rollout that combined speed and precision to ensure the most vulnerable were protected first.
And we can use the purchasing power of a single national health service to deliver a better deal for patients and taxpayers – with an average of five therapies for patients in England for every fourth patient across Europe, including a range of cancer medicines and other specialist treatments.
The history of the NHS has always been one of innovation to meet the needs of every generation.
We are no longer the NHS of iron lungs and tuberculosis but of genomic medicine, blood testing for cancer and virtual wards delivering high tech hospital care at home.
Though so much has changed, the dedication, skills and compassion of our staff who dedicate themselves to serving patients and their families every day have remained the same.
From midwives to GPs and pharmacists, nurses, doctors, porters, clinicians and cleaners to the hundreds of thousands of other staff and volunteers, such as The Sun’s Jabs Army, I want to thank the millions of people across the country who have done it has worked so tirelessly to innovate and improve patient services.
Just like in 1948 and every year since, the NHS continues to face major challenges – from restoring services after the pandemic to record demand and ensuring patient safety during strikes.
Despite this pressure, the NHS remains – overwhelmingly – the institution that makes the public most proud of our country.
We know we still have a lot to do. But thanks to our work to restore services, expand community care, increase the number of doctors, nurses and other health professionals trained and introduce the latest technology and treatments, we can ensure that the NHS continues to provide quality care to people offers British people for decades to come.
A health service built on founding principles that are still as relevant and valued as they were 75 years ago.