It took huge political courage to set up the NHS 70 years ago today… and it’ll take even more to save it

Jul 6, 2018 by

by Dominic Sandbrook, Mailonline:

A summer day in 1948 in the village of Edlington, South Yorkshire, and a small crowd had assembled outside the doctor’s surgery.

While the Union Jack fluttered from a window, the local colliery’s brass band struck up a celebratory tune. Afterwards, as the doctor handed out drinks to the puffing bandsmen, everybody basked in the glow of what felt like a revolution.

The scenes in that village, which were echoed in towns and cities all over the country, marked the birth of the National Health Service, which is 70 years old today.

As the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday, the institution will need strong political will to guarantee its future

And in a way, we have never moved on.

The rest of the world has long since caught up, yet still we congratulate ourselves on our achievement. The costs rise by the day, the cracks become ever wider, the scandals more shocking, the cancer survival rates more depressing. But still we wave our Union Jacks.

So to mark this milestone, perhaps we should try being honest about the NHS for a change. Contrary to what its admirers often claim, it is not ‘free’, since this year alone it will cost taxpayers £125 billion. It is not the world’s only means of delivering healthcare. And it is certainly not the best.

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