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Celebrating the NHS at 70

On the 5th of July 2018, the National Health Service (NHS) celebrated its 70th anniversaryAneurin Bevan, the Minister for Health, founded the NHS in 1948 with the aim of bringing together hospitals, doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and opticians under a single umbrella organisation for the first time. Bevan intended to provide good healthcare to all, which was on the whole free at the point of delivery. Throughout its 70 years, the National Health Service has impacted the lives of millions of people across Britain and provides vital services daily. To celebrate this, we asked our authors for their thoughts and experiences on working for the NHS, and what this institution personally means to them.

“Working for the NHS may well shorten my life (the pressures are real!), yet I am proud to work for an organisation and be part of a nation that chooses to treat its people equally when they are ill, regardless of their ability to pay. The NHS has stood the test of time and change and remains a uniquely powerful engine of social justice.”

–  Dr Andrew Baldwin, General Practitioner, East Sussex. Co-author of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties (OUP, 2016).

“During my many years working within the NHS, I have seen a wealth of innovations that have enabled individuals receiving care to be empowered and informed whilst nurses and other health professionals have advanced their practice to benefit the services. Such a precious institution can only be sustainable if each and every one of us working with the NHS is appropriately supported, but also accepts and thrives on constant change to allow for future demands.”

– Susan Oliver, RN, MSc, FRCN, OBE, Independent Nurse Consultant Rheumatology, Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, Member of the British Society for Rheumatology, Honorary Member of European League Against Rheumatism. Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Musculoskeletal Nursing (OUP, 2009).

“It is only when you experience healthcare abroad that you come to fully realise how truly wonderful our NHS is. We had a foreign patient recently on Intensive Care who kept politely refusing nursing care and meals until we eventually realised it was because she thought she couldn’t afford these ‘extra’ services…!”

–  Dr Nina Hjelde, Anaesthetic Registrar, Manchester Foundation Trust. Co-author of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Specialties (OUP, 2016).

“My career in the NHS spans the years 1972-1995, and my roles were Student Nurse, Registered Nurse, Student Midwife, Registered Midwife, and then finally Midwife Teacher, after which I became a university lecturer. There have been so many changes over that time, but I must say I will be forever grateful to my dedicated colleagues (and students) who have all taught me so much while their unstinting efforts contributed to provide the best possible care to clients and patients.”

–  Janet Medforth, Retired, Senior Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University. Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Midwifery (OUP, 2017).

“To have had an opportunity to be part of this great institution has been a real privilege. I spent many years as a cardiac nurse working in London and now I’m educating the nurses of tomorrow. Long may the NHS continue.”

–  Kate Olson, Visiting Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Cardiac Nurse City, University of London. Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Cardiac Nursing (OUP, 2014).

We have also collated a reading list of open access resources which look at how, during its 70 years, the NHS has been at the heart of major medical milestones.

The changing face of the English National Health Service: new providers, markets and morality by Lucy Frith from the British Medical Bulletin. This article looks at the introduction of market mechanisms in the NHS, and what the effects of this are and if markets change the NHS beyond what Bevan might have imagined in 1948?

Implementing electronic records in NHS secondary care organizations in England: policy and progress since 1998 by Arabella Clarke, Ian Watt, Laura Sheard, John Wright, and Joy Adamson from the British Medical Bulletin. Whilst a number of different policies have aimed to introduce electronic records into the NHS secondary care organizations in England over recent years.­­, there has been little formal attempt to explore the overall impact of these policies and how they have developed and progressed over time.

New NHS treatments: a real breakthrough for breast cancer? by Kiashini Sriharan. In November 2017, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved two new drugs for treatment of breast cancer for use on the NHS,  palbociclib and ribociclib and which was deemed ‘ground-breaking’ in the media. But what exactly are these drugs and are they really as ‘breakthrough’ as they seem?

24/7 Consultant working in the NHS: 12 years experience in intensive care by P J Frost and M P Wise from QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. This article looks at the experiences of a consultant working for the NHS over the course of 12 years.

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