NHS 75 recognises the anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service on 5 July, 1948.
As we approach 5 July, NHS staff, politicians, patients and the public will be reflecting on the history and achievements of the NHS. While the NHS has faced unprecedented challenges in recent years, there continues to be much to be proud of and celebrated.
At the NHS Confederation, we will be undertaking a range of activities on behalf of our members to celebrate their achievements and to take part in the wider debate on what the health and care system needs to thrive and survive for another 75 years and beyond.
History: Back in 1948, just as the UK was just emerging from World War II, the country experienced a shift in political and social attitudes towards welfare provision. The concept of a national health service had broad public support, with people having experienced the benefits of collective action and shared responsibility during the war. At its heart, the NHS was founded on the principle of comprehensive, high-quality healthcare being provided free to all patients at the point of delivery, regardless of their income or social status. That principle still endures today.
What we're doing
We have been developing the conversation around NHS 75 over the past few months:
- On the evening of 15 May, our chief executive Matthew Taylor gave the annual Stevens Lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine in London. The title was "The NHS’s 75th birthday present should be a real health policy" with the lecture covering what needs to change across government to deliver a health policy that accounts for and promotes all drivers of healthy, prosperous and fulfilling lives. A full transcript is available on our website. In particular, Matthew introduced the need for a new national social contract on health, resetting the relationship between the public and their own health; between the centre and the NHS; and between all organisations involved in health and care.
- For ConfedExpo, the two-day conference that we hosted with NHS England in Manchester from 14–15 June, the 75th anniversary was a topic on everyone's lips. We used the event both to celebrate the many notable achievements since the founding of the NHS, as well as to energise delegates around the possibility of a new approach that will enable us to deliver a healthcare system fit for the future. A particular highlight was our NHS 75 feature zone, which included seven 40-minute interactive sessions on a range of topics including NHS firsts, inspiring the next generation workforce, future innovation, as well as the important contributions of the windrush generation. You can view full details of the NHS 75 themed sessions on our dedicated ConfedExpo site.
- The culmination of these discussions has been our new five-point plan for renewing the NHS. As Matthew said in his keynote speech at ConfedExpo – which you can both read and watch online – we argue that we must use the historic moment of the NHS’s 75th anniversary to unite behind a shared vision of its next and best era. Informed by his discussions with members, he set out a five-point action plan for stabilising the service and moving to a future NHS which combines prevention and personalisation with equity and inclusion. Matthew argued too that NHS leaders should not be punished for having ambition if the stretching targets that have been set this year are not met due to factors that are largely outside of their control.
- One of our key asks has been for the NHS Workforce Plan to be published before the date of the 75th anniversary, something which we wrote to the Chancellor about and challenged Steve Barclay on directly at ConfedExpo, as this continues to be perhaps the number one priority for members. We are pleased to say that on 30 June, the plan was published in full, with Matthew Taylor being quoted directly in the press release from NHS England. While we welcome this very positive development, we are now in the process of examining the detail of the plan, with a full briefing on all of the key points published by our team. Due to the lack of cover for social care, we have written to the prime minister calling for an additional plan for social care staff.
- On the evening of 3 July, Matthew Taylor participated in a public debate looking at the state of the NHS as we approach the 75th anniversary, emphasising the importance of the NHS and outlining what is needed to ensure a sustainable future. Matthew was joined by Anita Charlesworth, director of research at the Health Foundation, and Nishma Manek, a GP in Cambridge. Details of what was discussed are available to read on our Twitter thread.
- Finally, on 5 July, the day of the anniversary itself, a number of our leaders including our chair Lord Victor Adebowale, will be attending a commemorative service for NHS staff at Westminster Abbey. The day offers an opportunity to reflect on the hard work and achievements of staff past and present as well as to renew our commitment to bring together, support and empower the whole of the NHS as we go forward to a better future.
- Also on 5 July, our Health and Care Women Leaders Network will be hosting a twitter storm to recognise and celebrate the contribution of women to the NHS.
- Our team at the Welsh Confederation are hosting an NHS 75 celebratory event in the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) on Wednesday 5 July, with the First Minister of Wales providing a keynote address. Director Darren Hughes also attended a national service in Ely Cathedral in Wales on 4 July, the eve of the anniversary.
- The Welsh Confederation has also been calling for a national conversation on the future of the NHS, with a focus on the need to ensure that the health service in Wales is able to adapt to meet the changing needs of the population. They have issued a report, along with an accompanying infographic and press release.
- In Northern Ireland, colleagues hosted a live-streamed address and discussion session on 3 July, jointly delivered by Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation and Peter May, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health and chief executive of the HSC. They reflected on the role of Health and Social Care as one of society's key institutions, offered their collective thanks to HSC staff for their ongoing commitment and professionalism, and discussed fresh thinking and solutions to secure better outcomes for their population.
- They also issued a joint statement with health and care leaders in Northern Ireland united in a call for strong political leadership and support from every section of society to deliver much needed change.
Get involved with initiatives from NHS England
- Following an invitation to hold engagement sessions and consultations over the past two months, the NHS Assembly, which advises the board of NHS England, has released a report outlining the key priorities of staff and patients ahead of NHS 75. The report focuses on three areas: prevention of ill-health, personalised patient-centred care, including through new technology, and care closer to home.
NHS Parliamentary Awards
- In March, nominations for the NHS Parliamentary Awards 2023 were opened, recognising staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their hard work and innovation. The awards ceremony is set to take place on 5 July, the anniversary of the founding of the NHS, with Sean Duggan, chief executive of our Mental Health Network being one of the judges.
NHS Ambassadors Programme
- NHS England and Inspiring the Future have teamed up to inspire children and young people to consider a future career in the NHS. The ‘NHS Ambassadors’ programme connects NHS staff with local schools to give talks about the wide range of careers across the health service – both clinical and non-clinical. The programme is open to staff from all roles and all levels of the NHS, with a minimum commitment of just one hour a year.
NHS Photography Competition
- NHS England, in partnership with Fujifilm, has also launched a national photography competition to mark 75 years of the NHS. The competition is an opportunity for NHS staff and volunteers to share, through photos, their unique stories of what the NHS means to them. There are five categories candidates could choose to enter in, with the closing date being 31 May, and winning photos to be displayed at Westminster Abbey on 5 July.
And many more...
- Full details of all of the celebratory initiatives being promoted for NHS 75 are available on the NHS England website, and include buildings and monuments lighting up blue, park-runs, tea-parties, commemorative coins, and a special episode of BBC One's Repair Shop.