The NHS was launched on 5 July 1948 bringing health care for all in the UK, free at the point of delivery.
“It is 70 years since the NHS was launched and here in Wales we are very proud that a Welshman, Aneurin Bevan was the creative force behind the health system which promised free care for all.
“The NHS was established to be a “comprehensive health service designed to secure improvement in the physical and mental health of the people of England and Wales and the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, ” said Vanessa Young, Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation.
“This quote from the 1946 NHS Act resonates with the contemporary vision for the NHS. We expect a comprehensive service, although today we would say it must cover both health and social care. There is still a need to improve the health of our population if the NHS is to survive long-term. We want a system that treats physical and mental health equally, where depression is acknowledged and discussed as openly as diabetes.
“Prevention is high on the agenda today as the NHS struggles to manage demand for services. We talk about people taking responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, and making healthy choices as problems like obesity result in complex conditions that put a strain on the service.
“Today is not just a celebration of the birth of the service it is also huge thank you to its most valuable asset – the people who work and care within the NHS and the social care system across Wales. We are very proud of our brilliant workforce.
“When the NHS began it had less than 70,000 hospital staff not including doctors. Today the NHS across the UK has around 1.7 million people in its service. More than 90,000 people work for the NHS in Wales – the midwives who bring us into the world; the GPs and pharmacists who advise and treat us; the nurses and doctors who come our aid when the unexpected happens; the researchers at the forefront of innovation; the porters who keep our hospitals moving and many, many more. There is little doubt that the system would collapse without the incredible people of the NHS.
“The NHS never stands still. It commands overwhelming public support, embodying the principles of equity and solidarity. Yet the world that the NHS was born into no longer exists: medical advances, population growth and public expectations are all placing extreme pressure on a system. Across the globe, health and care leaders are coming to terms with the need to shift the health and care paradigm towards a more social model of care, based on connected services and communities.
“In Wales we are in a strong position to lead our health and care system in Wales into the next 70 years with a clear vision and strategy set out in the Welsh Government’s long-term plan A Healthier Wales.
“Today, as we look back with pride over the past, we must also look forward with excitement and a shared determination to continue to look after our NHS so that it can keep providing health and care services that make the people of Wales proud.”