Saturday, July 5, 2008

National Health Service: 60th birthday today

The taxpayer-funded NHS celebrates its 60th birthday today. Aneurin Bevan launched the National Health Service on 5 July, 1948, with the promise that "everybody, irrespective of means, age, sex or occupation shall have equal opportunity to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available." Unfortunately, the promise hasn't been completely successful, particularly regarding "equal opportunity" since there are four different services in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Also, due to the need to ration medical care, patients do not always get "the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available" - in fact, for some treatments, it's more likely to be the cheapest treatment not necessarily the best.

The NHS is a fantastic scheme but there are problems that need to be addressed, such as dirty hospitals, understaffing, mixed sex wards, and the cost of health tourists (About a third of hospitals in England and Wales are ignoring government advice to charge foreign visitors for NHS treatment).

What are your thoughts about the NHS as it turns sixty?

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