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65 years of the NHS - Sarah Eglington August 2013

On the 5th July this year the NHS celebrated its 65th anniversary, a momentous milestone for any organisation.

To mark the occasion Prime Minister, David Cameron, described it as a ‘great national treasure' and ‘one of the most precious institutions we have' and yet it still remains one of the most contentious and controversial political subjects in the UK. There isn't a day that goes by when the NHS isn't mentioned in the media. Whilst we're all hoping that further restructure is off the menu for at least a while, there continues to be new organisations being established, new policies being launched, new strategies being introduced, funds and budgets being allocated, scandals being uncovered, investigations taking place and reports being published. The NHS is like a ‘shape-shifter', an entity that transforms itself from one form to another to suit its current environment and to protect itself from potential harm.

Many believe that the healthcare market is in decline because of its tight budgets and the pressure on it to make cost and efficiency savings, but with an aging population, more people with long-term conditions and an obesity epidemic, the demand on the service continues to increase year on year, and will do for the foreseeable future. More patients equals more need for the right people and organisations to be in place and for cost-effective products and services to be procured and commissioned to support prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. In its 65th year of existence the NHS currently has just under 28,000 patient interactions every hour of every day in the UK. That doesn't sound like a ‘market' that is slowing down, that sounds like a market that is gearing up to do more.

The underlying principles of the NHS remain the same but change is necessary to continue to support these. Healthcare in the UK is much different from when it first began 65 years ago. Innovation, whether a new method, idea, process, product or technological advancement, is nothing new in the NHS, it is what has sustained its longevity throughout the years. We are moving to a more patient-led service, with clinical commissioning supporting the individual needs of local health economies, more care taking place in the community or in the home, and greater integration of health and social care. It is for that reason that the NHS will continue to transform to prepare and protect itself for the future.

<Taken from the Foreword of Binley's NHS Guide Summer_Autumn 2013 edition>

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