NHS 75th Birthday


“No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of a lack of means.” Anuerin Bevan

On July 5th 2023, the NHS celebrated its 75th birthday - an historic milestone, prompting nostalgia and celebration from individuals and organisations throughout the UK.

As those across the country mark the occasion, we take a look back at this mighty institution, how it came into being and how it has evolved over the past 75 years.

Treating more than one million people every day in England, the NHS has touched all of our lives in some way.

On the 5th July 1948, The National Health Service was launched by Aneurin Bevan, the Minister of Health, at the Park Hospital in Manchester. It was the very first universal health system to be accessible to all, free at the point of delivery.

The system was funded entirely by tax contributions and was set up to provide every man, woman and child with free medical, dental and nursing care from ‘cradle to grave’.

The aim to provide good, reliable healthcare to all was finally taking its first tentative steps after many years of fragmented and woefully inadequate health schemes, which often relied on the charity sector to pick up the pieces.

Whilst the wealthy had been well catered for, the working classes had been excluded from the most basic of healthcare necessities through excessively high costs.

The creation of the NHS was the result of years of hard work from many individuals who felt the current healthcare system needed to be reinvented.

Dr Benjamin Moore, a Liverpool physician and pioneering key figure, first used the phrase ‘National Health Service’ in his book ‘The Dawn of the Health Age’ in 1910. His visionary ethos led him to start the State Medical Service Association in 1912. It would be another thirty years before his ideas would feature in the Beveridge Plan for the NHS.

During the 1930s, the Hospitals Association, the British Medical Association and many other groups produced reports demanding reform and greater co-operation between regional healthcare providers. In 1932, The Labour Party accepted Somerville Hastings’ resolution which backed establishing a State Medical Service.

William Beveridge was a social economist, born in 1879. Beveridge felt strongly about fixing social equality and, when working at Whitehall, was commissioned to lead an enquiry into social services. His aim was to fight against what he referred to as ‘the five giants’ – idleness, ignorance, disease, squalor and want. In 1942, he developed a ‘cradle to grave’ social care plan that called for a free National Health Service. This was popular with the public and, ultimately, influenced Clement Atlee’s Government to put these ideas into place.

When Clement Attlee came to power in 1945 and Aneurin Bevan became Health Minister, Bevan began a campaign to bring into place the NHS we now know well. This project was based on three ideas: that the services helped everyone; that healthcare was free and finally, that care would be provided based on need rather than ability to pay.

Since 1948, the NHS has evolved to deal with the changing requirements of each new generation, saving the lives of countless individuals whilst taking care of the day to day medical needs of a nation and also achieving many world firsts.

In 1971, the NHS performed the world’s first CT scan on a patient, revolutionising the way doctors examine the body.

In 1978, the world’s first test-tube baby was born.

In 1999 the meningitis C vaccine was offered nationally – which was a global first.

Other large-scale vaccination programmes have protected children from whooping cough, measles and tuberculosis.

More recently, during the pandemic, the NHS carried out research at an unmatched scale and found the world’s first effective treatment for COVID-19, dexamethasone. It was made available at every hospital on the same day it was approved.

Just a few of the remarkable achievements of an institution that has become part of the lifeblood of this country.

At Social Care TV, we thank all NHS workers for their care and dedication.

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it.” Anuerin Bevan