Happy Birthday to our NHS

Today our beloved NHS is 64 years old.  I’m just hoping that it’s not going to retire at 65!

I’m aware that sometimes I don’t sound grateful for the wonderful FREE service that is provided to all via the NHS service.  [I can already see comments being posted telling me it’s not a fair system, it doesn’t work etc etc…]

I am a frequent flyer with the NHS since my diagnosis in 2009 with malignant phyllodes.  I’m reminded regularly from postings in our Phyllodes Support Group from other international members about the difficulties they have in getting and affording good healthcare.  One lady had to work three jobs to get together enough money for her operation all the whilst knowing and feeling that the tumour was getting larger every day.  That can’t be right?

I think sometimes we forget just how fortunate we are to have free healthcare.  Sometimes we dwell on the bits that don’t work or the consultants that are feckless idiots with absolutely no bedside manner (ooops!).  We get frustrated when we wait for a week to be seen or a return phone call is delayed, an appointment time messed up or the medic that we see just doesn’t know everything!  I think sometimes we forget that the medics that we see are also human, they know so much but actually don’t know it all.  And they’re also doing the very best that they can.

As you know from my post at the beginning of this journey (Doctor Appointment) that when I needed to be listened to; when I needed to be referred; and when I needed to be cared for; he was there.  I couldn’t have asked for more.  He rushed me through as an urgent referral.  He watched and monitored the correspondence coming back to him from other medical departments and throughout my journey.  He even took the time to call me to see if I was OK, emotionally/psychologically not medically!  I’m grateful every day for the wonderful service my GP afforded to me.

However this post is about the NHS.  About celebrating the services that we have.  About understanding the numbers that they look after and perhaps making me a little less antsy when things don’t quite go right!

Some dates, facts and numbers about the NHS (taken from NHS 60th birthday articles)…

  • 5 July 1948 the National Health Service was born when the then Health Secretary, opens Park Hospital in Manchester.
  • 1952 – Prescription charges of one shilling (5p) were introduced as well as a flat rate for dental treatment.
  • 1953 – DNA structure revealed
  • 1954 – Smoking-cancer link established
  • 1958 – Polio and diptheria vaccinations for everyone under the age of 15
  • 1960 – First kidney transplant
  • 1961 – The contraceptive pill is made widely available.
  • 1962 – First hip replacement
  • 1962 – The Porritt Report is published and results in Enoch Powell’s Hospital Plan
  • 1967 – Salmon Report makes recommendations for the development of senior nursing staff under the direction of a chief nursing officer.
  • 1967 – The Abortion Act is introduced
  • 1968 – Sextuplets born after fertility treatment.
  • 1968 – First heart transplant
  • 1972 – CT scans used
  • 1975 – Endorphins discovered
  • 1978 – First test tube baby
  • 1979 – First successful bone marrow transplant
  • 1980 – Keyhole surgery is used to remove gallbladder
  • 1980 – MRI scans introduced
  • 1981 – Improved health of babies (1981 census shows 11 babies in every 1,000 die before the age of 1.  In 1980 this figure was 160/1,000)
  • 1986 – AIDS health campaign launched
  • 1987 – Heart, lung and liver transplant
  • 1988 – National breast screening programme introduced
  • 1990 – NHS and Community Care Act
  • 1991 – 57 NHS trusts established to make the service more responsive to the user at a local level
  • 1994 – National NHS organ donor register is set up
  • 1998 – A nurse-led advice service providing 24-hr health advice over the phone (NHS Direct) is launched
  • 2000 – NHS walk-in centres introduced
  • 2002 – Primary care trusts are set up to improve the administration and delivery of healthcare at a local level
  • 2002 – First successful gene therapy
  • 2004 – First foundation trusts created
  • 2006 – Extended patient choice
  • 2006 – National bowel caner screening programme is launched
  • 2007 – NHS Choices website is launched
  • 2007 – Smoking ban is introduced in restaurants, pubs and other public places
  • 2007 – Introduction of the robotic arm leads to groundbreaking heart operations
  • 2008 – Free choice introduced so patients can choose from any hospital or clinic that meets NHS standards
  • 2008 – HPV vaccination programme
  • 2009 – The NHS Constitution is published and sets out your rights as an NHS patient
  • 2009 – The New Horizons programme is launched to improve adult mental health services in England
  • 2009 – The NHS Health Check is introduced for adults between the ages of 40 & 74
Did you know?  Some facts and figures from 2008 (again marking the 60th anniversary)
  • The NHS is one of the largest employers in the world
  • The NHS employs 1.3million people.  Approximately 1 in 23 of the working population
  • Around 77% of the NHS workforce is female
  • Nurses make up the largest part of the NHS workforce, at just under 30%
  • NHS Direct receives around 20 calls per minute.
  • 75% of women aged 53-64 in England are screened for breast caner at least once every three years
  • NHS Ambulance Service received 6.3 million emergency calls in 2005/2006, which is roughly 360 per hour
  • NHS ambulances make over 50,000 emergency journeys each week
  • Approximately 170,000 people go for an eyesight test each week
  • NHS staff are in contact with more than 1.5 million patients and families every day
  • Full-time GPs treat an average of 255 patients a week
  • In a typical week, 1.4 million people will receive help in their home from the NHS

By the way, have you ever thanked someone in the NHS? We’re all so very quick to say what’s gone wrong and who’s p’d us off, that sometimes we forget to say ‘thank you’ or send a note to the hospital PALS, GP surgery, care home director etc to say when something went right or someone went the extra mile…. like us, those that do a great job also love to hear they did well… go on… do it!

So, as I put at the top of this post, the NHS is 64 today.  What can each of us do to help it be here long past it’s retirement age of 65?

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