Formed in 1948 under the Labour Party, Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan opened Park Hospital in Manchester, with the idea that care would be provided to all those in need with no on-demand cost. The NHS is funded solely through taxation.
In the latest General Election, Labour found that their voters’ greatest concern was for the NHS, with many against privatisation as the NHS became increasingly hard to fund. A 2015 January poll for #GE2015 asked 4,209 adults how they viewed the NHS with ‘74 per cent ranking it “very important” while 93 per cent found it either “very” or “fairly important”‘(http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/13/boost-for-labour-as-poll-finds-nhs-voters-biggest-concern).
With a vastly ageing population, increase in life expectancy and increased restrictions on budgets, the NHS is still at the forefront of politics even after the election. Previous Conservative actions have led to what many have called a ‘disastrous’ effect on the UK’s most prized possession; ‘they have “distracted” from the real work of the health service, according to the King’s Fund. “Historians will not be kind,” Professor Chris Ham, the think tank’s chief executive, says. The report found that the structure of the NHS was “complex, confusing and bureaucratic”.’
Prescription charges were introduced in 1952 -1965 and were then introduced again in 1968 to help fund the growing costs of care. The NHS states that it relies on three core principles:
● that it meet the needs of everyone
● that it be free at the point of delivery
● that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
(http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/about/Pages/nhscoreprinciples.aspx accessed 28/06/2015)
In 2014, an international poll voted the NHS as the world’s best health care system, with the US at the bottom. Despite pumping money into their health care system, the United States often rejects patients who have no health insurance. It is not unfamiliar to hear of American families that have refused treatments from curable illnesses, such as cancer, as they do not want to burden their family with the consequential debt. The UK spends £2,008 per head on healthcare, ranked second lowest amongst the 11 most westernised countries. Meaning that the NHS is still able to provide more efficient care of a high quality than countries spending a greater amount, especially in comparison to the United States’ £5,017 spend per head.
From 6 April 2015, non-EU citizens residing in the UK for longer than 6 months are required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ as part of their visa application. Although primary care and A&E remains free. Permanent residents of the 32 European countries qualify for NHS treatment which is then billed to their country of residence.
The National Health Service has become a fundamental part of the UK’s identity with many citizens boasting the unique and truly great health service, even though there are many battles still to be fought.