It’s the NHS’ birthday: How and when the NHS began
Posted on 6/07/2017 by
Today is the birthday of the NHS, which was formed 69 years ago.
On July 5 1948, health secretary Aneurin Bevan launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (which is today known as Trafford General Hospital).
It was part of a plan to bring good healthcare to all, where hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one large organisation.The central principle was clear – to provide a health service that would be available to all and financed entirely from taxation.
Following the Second World War, the system was introduced based on need, not ability to pay.
Before then, British people had to rely on insurance policies to pay for their health care, as it wasn’t often possible to earn enough to cover medical bills.
Although there are some charges for using the NHS, such as prescriptions, optician and dental services, the service is still largely free for people in the UK.
Employing millions of people across the country, the NHS is now the world’s largest publicly funded health service.
Here are some key milestones from over the years.
1958 – the polio and diphtheria vaccinations programme was launched
Before the programme, cases of polio could be as high as 8,000 during epidemics, and there could be 70,000 diphtheria cases, which lead to 5,000 deaths.
Everyone under the age of 15 was vaccinated.
1960 – the first UK kidney transplant
On October 30, 1960, the first kidney transplant took place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Involving an identical set of 49-year-old twins, the procedure was a success.
The world’s first test-tube baby Louise Joy Brown exercises her lungs after her birth by Caesarian section at Oldham General Hospital, Lancashire. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
1978 – the world’s first IVF baby
Louise Brown, the world’s first test-tube baby, was born on July 25 1978.
Her parents had failed to conceive due to her mother’s blocked Fallopian tubes.
1980s – introduction of MRI scans
Magnetic resonance imaging scanners proved more effective than earlier equipment in providing information about soft tissue, such as the brain.
They’re useful for identifying brain tumours, conditions such as multiple sclerosis and the extent of damage after a stroke.
1994 – the NHS Organ Donor Register is set up
In October 1994, the NHS Organ Donor Register was launched after a five year campaign by John and Rosemary Cox from the West Midlands.
Their 24 year old son Peter had died of a brain tumour in 1989, and had asked for his organs to be used to help others.
1998 – NHS Direct was launched
The service went on to become one of the largest single e-health services in the world.
It handled more than half a million calls each month, and marked the start of alternatives to traditional GP services.
NHS Direct has now been replaced by NHS 111, a non-emergency number for people to access healthcare services in an easier way.
2000s – NHS walk-in centres introduced
Walk-in centres are usually run by nurses and are available to everyone.
You don’t need an appointment, or to be registered, to visit one.
Most are open every day of the year, and give patients access to services outside regular office hours.
2010 – UK’s first cochlear implant operation to give sound in both ears
On August 27 2010, the first operation to fit an implant capable of giving sound in both ears took place at Southampton General Hospital.
Cochlear implants are small hearing devices fitted behind the ear during surgery.
2011 – first man in the UK to receive an artificial plastic heart
Matthew Green received the first portable total artificial heart implant at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire.
Before then, he had been critically ill from end-stage heart failure, and it was believed he may not survive unless a suitable donor heart could be found.
2012 – first person in the UK to have a hand transplant
On December 27 20102, the first hand transplant operation in the UK was carried out at Leeds General Infirmary.
Mark Hill’s hand was amputated, and then a donor hand was transplanted, all in a single operation.
Imogen Groome for Metro.co.uk