Celebrating 75 Years of the NHS: A timeline
Since its inception in 1948, the National Health Service (NHS) has played a crucial role in providing accessible healthcare to millions in the United Kingdom. Over its history, the NHS has undergone significant changes, impacting the lives of both patients and healthcare professionals. To celebrate 75 years of the organisation, join us as we take a journey through time to explore some key milestones that shaped one of the world’s most recognisable health systems.
Pre-1948 – Out of the frying pan, into the fire
Although the NHS as we know it would not take shape until much later in the decade, in 1942, a report by economist Sir William Beveridge, written during the darkest days of WWII, laid out a revolutionary idea for a post-war nation that would provide the blueprint for social policy in Britain.
“A revolutionary moment in the world’s history is a time for revolutions, not for patching,” he wrote.
Public hunger for change had been mounting for some time. Before the NHS, general practice covered workers aged between 16 and 70 under the National Insurance Act of 1911, but this did not extend to their families or children, for whom medical attention came hand in hand with a hefty price tag. Even those who could afford the expense were not guaranteed treatment. Underfunding and the ravages of war had reduced the health service to near bankruptcy.
Pain and discomfort were widely considered an unpleasant reality of life, to be endured with the famed British stiff upper lip mentality. But after two world wars, the nation was ripe for change – beginning with the government.
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