06. 07. 2018

A History of the NHS: 70 Years On

A History of the NHS: 70 Years On

Post-War Predicament

On the 2nd of September 1945 World War II came to an end. Of course it was not without its repercussions, the British public had endured a pretty serious case of being bombed, and therefore people weren’t generally very well. Along comes Aneurin Bevan who starts aggressively pursuing a massive healthcare reform, a sort of National Health Service, but the Conservative opposition were quick to try and shoot it down. They feared that if hospitals were nationally owned then they would lose the close patient-doctor relationship. The Labour government beat back these amendments and on July 5th 1948, at the Park Hospital in Manchester, the NHS was officially launched after only three years of constant arguing.

The genesis of the idea really only came alive in the ‘Beveridge Report’, written by Liberal economist William Beveridge, which proposed massive social reforms, one of which was the idea for a welfare state. In the study he found that rations during the time of rationing the cases of deficiency diseases and infant mortality dropped a great deal, the conclusion to draw from this is that poorer families were actually healthier during a period of national intervention. Upon discovering this, Beveridge had a massive light bulb pop up over his head, he would advise an increase of national intervention on a huge scale. Cue Bevan; cue the first paragraph of this blog.

Over the Years

Not long after its introduction to British life, the NHS began innovating, and hasn’t stopped since. In the early sixties the contraceptive pill was made widely available, which proved to be a massive step in the right direction for the rights of women. Around the same sort of time they also stopped just throwing mentally ill people into asylums and forgetting about them, a treatment technique that was waning in popularity and needed very serious reform.

During the seventies they mastered the power of painkillers with the discovery of endorphins, and managed to master the bone marrow transplant. With every new decade the levels of tech used within hospitals increased, with new machinery and research helping to diagnose and treat people. The following decades led to more innovations, too many to write about without just making a long list, and still the NHS kept fighting on.

What’s Next?

The question is; will the NHS last another 70 years? The answer; nobody knows. There are massive budget constraints in place right now, and the NHS has always suffered from being an incredibly expensive endeavour, these add up and I’m sure there are some people in government positions who want completely privatise health. I think that would be a great shame for this great public service. We shouldn’t point at its weaknesses as reasons to destroy it, we should help to fix those weaknesses and make the NHS stronger.

I’ll finish this blog by stating the three core principles the NHS was founded on:

i.That it meets the needs of everyone.

ii.That it’s free at the point to delivery.

iii.That it’s based on clinical need, not ability to pay.

Here’s hoping we’re working with the NHS for another 70 years! 

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