Source: Wikimedia Commons

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS, it is important that we remember how much we really need this wonderful institution. Although Aneurin Bevin and Clement Attlee would likely be turning in their graves at the state of the NHS in 2023, we must be determined to get it back to its fully functioning state.

Health should be the bedrock of society.

This was the very ideology, behind the NHS’s inception in 1948. A healthy population is a productive one, and this is no doubt at the centre of many of our current societal woes. It really isn’t difficult to make the link between a weakened health service and a chaotic society.

Yet prior to the NHSs inception, things were just as chaotic.

Polarised Opinions on the NHS

It is easy to think that the NHS has always been in existence. The reality is that prior to 1948, there was no free health care- and healthcare was only available to those who could afford it; or who were fortunate enough to be able to tap into charitable kindness.

Bevan, who was the Minister for Health, and Attlee the then Prime Minister- had a vision for making Health accessible to all (Free at the point of access).

Not everyone wanted this and it wasn’t an easy policy to get approved or to put into practice. Doctors had to be convinced of the merits of the NHS, and politicians were at loggerheads over it too.

Did you know that the Conservative Party had voted 4 times against the introduction of the NHS?

I know it seems inconceivable now, but it was a highly debated topic prior to its introduction. Much like now. politicians were concerned about the affordability of such an ambitious scheme.

All credit goes to the Attlee government for their persistence, or else we might never have gotten the NHS in the first place. The NHS has, however, undergone many transformations in the last 75 years.

NHS trusts and semi-privatisation

The NHS has evolved greatly, progressing with the times. It has seen power structures change quite dramatically. Under the Blair government, we saw a devolvement of power- when NHS trusts were created. Designed to start shifting responsibility away from centralised government.

Without getting into any kind of debate over the advantages or disadvantages of this, it is still clear to see how this changed the way the NHS operates. It was the first step toward privatisation, and only time will tell how that pans out (in the long run). Although currently, it does seem like big changes will be necessary to bring the NHS back to the fully functioning institution it once was.

Yet society is not how it was when the NHS was introduced, and maybe there is a sense that the NHS needs to adapt to cope with the changing demands of an ever-changing population.

Final thoughts

Our population’s change in diet and lifestyle has undoubtedly put an enormous strain on the NHS. Also, it goes without saying that technological advancements have both helped and hampered the capacity of the NHS.

Yes, we can potentially save more lives than ever before in human history- but also the manufacturing of such technology increases pollution, which leads to more illness. This means that we are in fact chasing our own tails (so to speak). Creating more need for the NHS, and struggling to keep up with this increased demand.

Undoubtedly, Bevan and Attlee could not have predicted the changes that have come along. They created an NHS which was fit for the conditions and the population of that era. It is now down to our current government to fix the problems within the NHS and to make it fit for the future.

One thing is for sure- the NHS is a wonderful and much-needed institution, full of amazing professionals, state of the art equipment; and it saves countless lives.

We really couldn’t be without it.

Thank you to all those who keep the NHS going. We appreciate all the hard work and dedication, and here’s to another 75 years of this fantastic institution.

Published by Karen Burns

A 50-year-old mother of 3. Graduated from Warwick University in 2021 (with a degree in Social Studies). I have chronic illness, which affects my mobility. However, I love writing and I am a prolific writer of poetry as well.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: