This past week the National Health Service (NHS) has reached an incredible milestone, celebrating 70 years in operation. Founded at Trafford General Hospital in Manchester, it is a national institution I am incredibly proud of and something I believe we must ensure is around for another 70 years to come.
When the NHS was founded 70 years ago it faced very few of the challenges it is facing today. The NHS is now challenged with an ageing and growing population, rising costs and the evolving healthcare needs of the British public which is putting a real strain on the institution we have all grown to rely upon. This strain is becoming increasingly evident and if more is not done to safeguard the NHS I fear we may not be celebrating in the same way 70 years from now.
In order to ensure we do this I believe we need to acknowledge the biggest areas where change is needed and where the NHS need more support, the first being budget. Rising costs, and increasing restraints on budget means that the NHS has been constantly underfunded. However, the recent news that Theresa May is granting them a £20 billion birthday gift is very much welcomed. However, my concern is that the money will not go towards what is really needed.
This extra budget needs to go towards supporting frontline NHS staff to deliver what the NHS was created to do – provide high quality treatment that is free at the point of use. In order to do this the NHS needs highly trained employees and adequate resources. It is no secret that Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments across the country are suffering as a result of hospital closures and increased workloads. The government should therefore focus their efforts on assisting these areas and ensuring they are running smoothly. In doing so I believe they would alleviate strain across the entire organisation.
Secondly, I believe the government need to work on educating the British public to use NHS services more wisely. It is crucial that people choose the most appropriate service for their needs and do not put unnecessary pressures on the NHS. This is a very real problem and something the NHS is trying to tackle, but more support is needed. People need to know all of their options in order to choose the right service for them, such as NHS 111, local pharmacies and GPs. This would take a great amount of pressure off emergency NHS staff and allow the system to run much more efficiently.
This year’s #NHS70 campaign is the perfect opportunity to make people proud of the NHS again and build up the support needed to secure its future. The campaign has already garnered support from across the UK and it is great to see both the NHS and the UK government putting a lot of effort into making 2018 a truly momentous year. However, we need to ensure that this momentum does not stop.
People across the UK must acknowledge that although 70 years is a huge milestone, more support is needed to make sure our children, and our children’s children have access to the same services as us. The only way we can do this is to support our NHS and help where possible to safeguard its future.
I would like to wish the NHS and all its employees a very Happy Birthday!