As we approach the 74th anniversary of the NHS, Prof Mike Holmes examines how things have changed. Amidst this change there are, however, a few constants, he points out in his latest blog.
As we approach the 74th anniversary of the NHS this July, the current Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners reminded all GPs of a couple of quotes that are very pertinent and I thought I would share them with you.
Back in 1948 Nye Bevan, the founder of the NHS said: “Despite our financial and economic anxieties, we are still able to do the most civilised thing in the world – put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration”.
This is a really profound statement and means as a country we aim to think about those who have the most need and prioritise them, ahead of our individual needs.
The second quote came in 2022 from Charlotte Augst, the Chief Executive of National Voices – an organisation that represents patients and service users.
She said: “Patients can no longer be confident that their needs will be met. This is a profound failure of our commitment to the social charter”.
Of course, context is everything – the national mood and level of altruism felt in 1948 in the immediate aftermath of the second world war, may not be comparable to the modern, consumer driven, world we inhabit today. Nevertheless, the needs of the population were recalibrated during the pandemic, meaning priorities were different and focus had to be shifted to dealing with a deadly virus – doing exactly as Nye Bevan had hoped.
Things do seem to be very difficult at the moment – we are being immersed by economic challenges, recovering from a global health crisis where millions of people died and the NHS is undergoing another reorganisation.
The personnel and system structure are changing again – we have a newish health minister and we are about to launch new Integrated Care Systems. Indeed, many people working in the NHS don’t know what jobs they will be doing in July, as the required legislation has only just been passed. It was too late to start in April, as originally planned.
Amidst this change there are, however, a few constants;
The public who are the users of these services, the staff working in our healthcare providers and the vocationally trained clinicians who work in all health sectors and at all levels. Each committed to caring for their patients that do this, despite the seemingly constant organisational change going on around them – each aiming to uphold Bevan’s ambition.
As citizens we are incredibly tolerant. I was reminded of this when visiting my native North East over the last couple of weeks – speaking to people from all walks of life; all of whom were full of praise and gratitude for those working at the front line of healthcare and were understanding of why the current situation was both different and challenging. Certainly not an echo of the front pages of some of our national newspapers who appear to have their own, rather unhelpful, agenda.
Despite the system changes I am delighted to see clinicians and managers adapting to new ways of working and putting patient care first – Nimbuscare is an example, but so is the collaboration that is emerging across our local health and care system. Collaboration seems to be the emerging currency and I hope it becomes ever more prevalent.
We are seeing examples of collaboration start to use the developing facilities at Nimbuscare’s Community Care Centres at Askham Bar and Acomb Garth (soon to open). I hope these centres will have a positive effect as we build on the services we are already providing.
I am reassured that Bevan’s aspiration for the NHS is still alive and that those working in the NHS in York will continue to strive to make it a reality.