The National Health Service at 70

05 / 07 / 2018

In the run up to the launch of the NHS on 5 July 1948 at Park Hospital, Manchester, households received a simple four-page pamphlet explaining what a National Health Service would entail and how it could be accessed.

The past 70 years has seen its fair share of reforms and significant changes in demand, funding, provision, outcomes and expectations. If a similar exercise was to be carried out today, a four-page pamphlet is clearly no longer sufficient but the key themes of provision and access are just as relevant now as they were in 1948.

The NHS’ 70th anniversary represents a key juncture in its history. With demand outstripping funding and detrimental effects to both access and quality, a choice needs to be made about what the pamphlet should say about the NHS today; in essence, what kind of health and care system are we willing to pay for?

That is why we commissioned the Institute for Fiscal Studies and The Health Foundation, to undertake a major study of the demand and financial needs facing the health and social care system over the period to 2033. Nevertheless, as with any 70th birthday, we should not only reflect on how the NHS has aged or the challenges ahead but celebrate its achievements since birth and take stock of where we are today.

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