Why we need to celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday | Mark Cubbon

Mark Cubbon

Amid the backdrop of financial challenge and increasing demand, it is all too easy to forget how far we have come since the NHS's inception in 1948. But taking some time to recognise the achievements of the last seven decades and the potential of what is yet to come will be time well spent, writes Portsmouth Hospitals' chief executive, Mark Cubbon.

Somewhat remarkably, reaching your 70th year isn’t quite the milestone it once was. We are all living longer, meaning that becoming 70 can pass without too much fanfare. However, this won’t be the case for the NHS’s 70th birthday in July, which will rightly be the cause of much celebration across the country.

As chief executive of a large acute trust in Portsmouth, I know only too well the pressures faced by the NHS, day in and day out. Amid the backdrop of financial challenge and increasing demand, it is all too easy to forget how far we have come since the service’s inception. Innovations in treatment which were once thought impossible are now everyday occurrences and conditions which were once fatal are not only survivable, but beatable.

The NHS is a brand that is instantly recognised and respected, and has core values that remain as relevant today as they were in 1948. The NHS is truly remarkable and it is right that we should make time to come together to acknowledge it. Many of us and our families owe a huge debt of gratitude to the service – what better opportunity is there to not only share its successes but also thank all those who have contributed to them.

None of what has been achieved over the last seven decades would have been possible without the tireless dedication of all those who work within the NHS family. Over the years, that family has grown and become more diverse, and the contribution of our colleagues in social care and the voluntary sector must not be forgotten, and without whom the NHS today simply couldn’t function.

I’m continuously amazed by how much our staff touch the lives of our patients and their families, and while simply saying thank you doesn’t seem enough, it is so important.  At Portsmouth, thanking our staff both past and present will be central to our NHS 70th celebrations, as well as encouraging future generations to aspire to a career in the NHS.

In particular, I would like to pay tribute to all those who volunteer and freely give up their time to support patients and services across the country. We have over 600 volunteers in Portsmouth who help us with everything from administration to mealtime assistance, to being hospital guides. Every one makes a huge contribution and we should use this time to show them our appreciation. 

I encourage you, whatever your role and wherever you work, to do what you can to get involved in NHS70. I’m sure that like me, you are immensely proud to be a part of the NHS. Recognising the contributions already made and highlighting the potential of what is yet to come will be time well spent.
And, to make it easier, those helpful folk at NHS England and NHS Improvement have launched an array of materials to support us with our celebrations, from logos and statistics to top tips and useful contacts. You’ll find it all here: www.england.nhs.uk/NHS70.

Mark Cubbon is chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Follow him on Twitter @MCubbonNHS

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