Happy 75th Birthday to the NHS!

Yesterday marked 75 years of the National Health Service. Founded in 1948, the NHS was the first universal health system to be available to all, free at the point of delivery. The NHS report that “nine in 10 people agree that healthcare should be free of charge, more than four in five agree that care should be available to everyone, and that the NHS makes them most proud to be British”. Today, the NHS treats over a million people a day in England.

Of course, a lot has changed in 75 years. More recently, the NHS has set up Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) across England, bringing health and care organisations together to address health inequalities and plan services to better meet the needs of patients. ICSs are now formal statutory bodies with responsibility for spending and commissioning at a local level.

Cross-sector partnership working will form a key component of how ICSs address inequalities and improve health and wellbeing locally, and ICSs have developed and published strategies for involving people and communities.

Our recent report Challenge, innovation, friendship, highlights the growth of partnership work between health and care systems and VCFSE organisations between 2020 and 2022, and summarises our insight-gathering exercise, providing best practice and recommendations for local systems, to ensure the voices seldom-heard communities can be appropriately reflected within the implementation of local strategies.

Looking ahead to the next 75 years, the NHS Assembly have developed an independent report: The NHS in England at 75: priorities for the future. This will help the NHS, nationally and locally, respond to long term opportunities and challenges. The report was informed by feedback from the thousands of people that contributed to the NHS@75 engagement,and the Assembly’s huge breadth of experience.

The Assembly found that the NHS should now focus on three key areas for long term development: better preventing ill health, personalising care and delivering more co-ordinated care closer to home.

The Assembly will continue to look at the insights gained from the NHS@75 engagement to explore the key developments outlined in more detail. The findings will help inform the future work of NHS England and Integrated Care Systems.

FaithAction will continue to represent the voice of faith as part of the VCSE Health & Wellbeing Alliance, (HWA), a partnership between sector representatives and the health and care system, made up of 18 VCSE members that represent communities who share protected characteristics or that experience health inequalities. The Alliance is jointly managed by UK Health Security Agency, Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England. You can read our HWA reports here.

You can read more about the NHS at 75 here.

Image: Anenurin Bevan, Minister of Health, on the first day of the National Health Service, 5 July 1948 at Park Hospital, Davyhulme, near Manchester. University of Liverpool Faculty of Health & Life Sciences from Liverpool, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons