Started in 1948
What have we achieved since 5th July 1948?
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The NHS is born on July 5th 1948 out of a long held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth.
When health secretary Aneurin Bevan opens Park Hospital in Manchester it is the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all.
For the first time hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are bought together under one umbrealla organisation that is free for all at the point of delivery.
The central principles are clear; the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according their means.
Prescription charges of one shilling (5p) are introduced and a flat rate of a pound for ordinary dental treatment is also brought in on June 1st 1952.
Prescription charges are later abolished in 1965, and remain free until 1968 when the charges are reintroduced.
Crick and Watson, two Cambridge scientists, reveal the structure of DNA in Nature Magazine.
On April 25 James D Watson and Francis Crick, two Cambridge University scientists, describe the structure of a chemical called deoxyribonucleic acid in Nature magazine.
DNA is the material that makes up genes which pass hereditary characteristics from parent to child.
Crick and Watson begin their article:
"We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest."
DNA allowed the study of disease caused by defective genes.
Daily visits gradually introduced for children who until now had been allowed to see parents only at the weekend.
Unitl now, children in hospital are only allowed to see their parents for an hour on Saturdays and Sundays and are frequently placed in adult wards, with little attempt to explain why they are there or what is going to happen. Paediatricians Sir James Spence in Newcastle and Alan Moncriff at Great Ormond Street are making considerable steps to change this, demonstrating that such seperation is traumatic for children.
As a result, daily visiting is introduced gradually.
1954 Smoking-Cancer Link Established
Sir Richard Doll establishes a clear link between smoking and lung cancer.
In the 1940's, British scientist Doll begins research into lung cancer after incidences of the disease rise alarmingly. He studies lung cancer patients in 20 London hospitals, and expects to reveal that the cause is fumes from coal fires, car fumes or Tarmac.
His findings suprise him and he publishes a study in the British Medical Journal, co-written with Sir Austin Bradford Hill, warning that smokersare far more likely than non-smokers to die of lung cancer.
Doll gives up smoking two-thirds of the way through his study and lives to be 92.
A programme to vaccinate everyone under the age of 15 against polio and diphtheria is launched.
One of the primary aims of the NHS is to promote good health, not simply to treat illness, and the introduction of the polio and diphtheria vaccine is a key part of the NHS's plans. Before this programme, cases of polio could climb as high as 8,000 in epidemic years, with cases of diphtheria as high as 70,000, leading to 5,000 deaths.
This programme sees everyone under the age of 15 vaccinated and will lead to an immediate and dramatic reduction in cases of both dieseases.
An Edinburgh doctor, Michael Woodruff, performs the first UK transplant involving an identical set of twins.
The fist UK transplant takes place at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on October 30 and involves a set of 49-year-old twins. The procedure is a success, with both donor and recipient living for a further six years before dying of an unrelated illness.
Kidney transplants, which for many are a welcome alternative to a lifetime of regular dialysis, now enjoy a high success rate but demand outstrips supply due to an ageing population meaning an increased incidence of renal failure, while the number of donor organs available has fallen.
The contraceptive pill is made widely available and is hailed as a breakthrough of the 20th Century.
The launch of the contraceptive pill, which supresses fertility with either progesterone or oestrogen or, more commonly, a combination of both, plays a major role in women's liberation and contributes to the sexual freedom of the so-called Swinging Sixties. Initially it is only available to married women, but this is relaxed in 1967.
Between 1962 and 1969, the number of women taking the Pill will rise dramatically, from approximately 50,000 to 1m.
Porritt Report is published and results in Enoch Powell's Hospital Plan.
The medical profession criticises the seperation of the NHs into three parts - hospitals, general practice and local health authorities - and calls for unification.
The Hospital Plan approces the development of district general hospitals for population areas of about 125,000. The 10-year programme is new territory for the NHS and it soon becomes clear that it has underestimated the cost and time taken to build new hospitals. But with the advent of postgraduate centres, nurses and doctors will be given a better future.
This major report makes recommendations for the development of senior nursing staff.
The Salmon Report is published and sets out recommendations for developing the nursing staff structure and the status of the profession in hospital management.
The Cogwheel Report considers the organisation of doctors in hospitals and proposes speciality groupings. It also highlights the efforts being made to reduce the disavantages of the three-part NHS structure - hospitals, general practice and local health authorities - acknowledging the complexity of the NHS and the importance of change to meet future needs.
Sextuplets born after British woman recieves fertility treatment.
In the morning of October 2 Sheila Thorns celebrates her birthday by undergoing a caesarean section at Birmingham Maternity Hospital. She gives birth to six children, four boys and two girls, but sadly one of the girls dies shortly afterwards. With 28 medical staff at the delivery, the five surviving babies - Ian, Lynne, Julie, Susan and Roger - are cared for by a specialist team.
Doctors say around one in 3,000m will result in sextuplets. Mrs Thorns had been treated with the fertility treatment gonadotrophin which contains two hormones known as FSH and LH.
Computer tomography scans start to revolutionise the way doctors examine the body.
These scanners produce 3-D images from a large series of two-dimensional X-rays and the first one is started in 1967 by Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield, with his research reaching fruition now.
His concept will go on to win him a Nobel Prize, which he will share with the American Allan McLeod Cormack, who developed the same idea across the Atlantic.
Since that initial inventions, CT scanners have developed enormously, but the principle remains the same.
The morphine-like chemicals in the brain called endorphins are discovered.
John hughes and Hans Kosterlitz of Scotland isolate from the brain of a pig what they called enkephalins and will later be termed 'endorphin' from an abbreviation of ''endogenous morphine'.
These are polypeptides produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates, and they resemble opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well-being. In other words, they might work as natural pain killers.
Louise Brown is the world's first abby to be born as a result of in-vitro fertilisation.
The world's first test-tube baby is born on July 25. Parents Lesley and John Brown had failed to conceive due to Lesleys's blocked fallopian tubes.
This new technique developed by Dr Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologist at Oldham General Hospital, and Dr Robert Edwards, a physiologist at Cambridge University found a way to fertilise the egg outside the woman's body before replacing it in the womb.
Using a combination of magnetism and radio frequency waves, MRI scanners provide information about the body.
Magnetic resonance imaging scanners prove more effective in providing information about soft tissues, such as scans of the brain.
The patient lies inside a large cylindrical magnet and extremely strong radio waves are then sent throught the body. It provides very detailed pictures, so is particularly useful for finding tumours in the brain; it can also identify conditions such as multiple sclerosis and the extent of damage following a stroke.
The 1981 Census shows that 11 babies in every 1,000 die before the age of one. In 1900 this figure was 160.
Childhood survival has been revolutionised by caccination programmes, better sanitation and improved standards of living, resulting in better health of both mother and child. Increased numbers of birth in hospital has meant that when unexpected problems do occur, medical help is on hand. Around one baby in eight requires some kind of special care following birth. Twenty years ago, only 20% of babies weighing less than 1,000g (2lbs 2oz) at birth survived. Now that figure is closer to 80%.
The government launches biggest public health campaign in history to educate people about the threat of Aids as a result of HIV.
Following a number of high-profile deaths, the advertising campaign sets out to shock - with images of tombstones and icebergs, followed early in 1987 by a household leaflet, "Don't die of ignorance".
This was very much in keeping with the NHS's original concept that it should improve health and prevent disease, rather then just offer treatment.
First heart, lung, and liver transplant is carried out at Papworth Hospital.
Professor Sir Roy Calne and Professor John Wallwork carry out the world's first liver, heart and lung transplant at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.
Professor Calne describes the patient as "plucky" and she survives for a further 10 years after the procedure. Her healthy heart is donated to another transplany patient.
Comprehensive national breast-screening programme introduced.
To reduce breast cancer deaths in women over 50 this project is launched with breast-screening units around the country providing mammograms.
A mammogram works by taking an X-ray of each breast, which can show changes in tissue that might otherwise be undetectable. This means that any abnormalities show up as early as possible, making treatment more effective. Screening, together with improved drug therapies will help to cut breast cancer deaths by more than 20%, a trend that looks set to continue.
Internal market is introduced, which means health authorities manage their own budgets.
Now health authorities will manage their own budgets and buy healthcare from hospitals and other health organisations. In order to be deemed a "provider" of such healthcare, organisations will become NHS Trusts, that is, independant organisations with their own managements.
Fifty seven NHS trusts are established to make the service more responsive to the user at a local level.
New NHS trusts will aim to encourage creativity an innovation and challenge the domination of the hospitals within a health service that is increasingly focused on services in the community.
National register for organ donation is set up to co-ordinate supply and demand after a five-year campaign.
The NHS Organ Donor Register is launched following a five-year campaign by John and Rosemary Cox. In 1989 their son Peter died of a brain tumour. He had asked for his organs to be used to help others. The Coxes said that there should be a register for people who wish to donate their organs.
By 2005 moe than 12m had registered. Organ donation is needed as demand outstrips supply and this register ensures that when a person dies they can be identified as someone who has chosen to donate their organs.
New health facilities open offering convenient access, round-the-clock, 365 days a year.
NHS walk-in centres (WiCs) offer convenient access to a range of NHS services and are managed by Primary Care Trusts. There are around 90 NHS WiCs dealing with minor illnesses and injuries. WiCs are predominantly nurse-led first-contact services available to everyone without making an appointment or requiring patients to register. Most centres are open 365 days a year and are situated in convenient locations that give patients access to services even beyond regular office hours.
Primary care trusts are set up to improve the administration and delivery of healthcare at a local level.
The primary care trusts oversee 29,000 GPs and 21,000 NHS dentists. primary care trusts that are in charge of vaccination administration and control of epidemics also control 80 per cent of the total NHS budget. They also liaise with the private sector when contracting out of services is required. As local organisations, they are best positioned to understand the needs of their community, so they can make sure that the organisations providing health and social care services are working effectively.
Introduction of robotic arm leads to groundbreaking operations to treat patients for fast or irregular heartbeats.
This technological revolution is being used at St Mary's Hospital, London, and is less risky than more invasive techniques. It works by inserting several fine wires into a vein in the groin, which are then guided to the heart where they deliver an electric current to parts of the heart muscle. Cardiologists control the robot arm via a computer and joystick, but in future the system could be automated. Around 50,000 people develop an irregular heartbeat each year, and it is a major cause of strokes and heart attacks.
Huge strides have been made by both the health service and the nursing profession in the last 60 years. Nurses are no longer seen as the doctors' handmaiden. Instead they are leaders and innovators in the service. They are diagnosing, prescribing and designing new services to provide more holistic care. All these achievements have meant a better service for patients - a feat that is undoubtedly worth celebrating.
It is there to improve our health and well-being, supporting us to keep mentally and physically well, to get better when we are ill and, when we cannot fully recover, to stay as well as we can to the end of our lives. It works at the limits of science - bringing the highest levels of human knowledge and skill to save lives and improve health. It touches our lives at times of basic human need, when care and compassion are what matter most.
On 12 July 2010 a White Paper - 'Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS' - was published. This has been described as the biggest change to the NHS since its creation in 1948 and contains far reaching and ambitious proposals to change the way in which the service is structured and services are commissioned.
In his speech to the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley said that the aim of the White Paper is to put patients at the heart of the service, to put clinicians in the driving seat on decisions about services and to focus the NHS on delivering health outcomes comparable with, or better than, those of our international neighbours.
The Bill went for its first reading in the House of Commons on 19th January 2011. The Bill proposes to create an independent NHS Board, promote patient choice, and to reduce NHS administration costs. The Bill is intended to put into effect the policies requiring primary legislation that were set out in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, which was published in July 2010.