Happy birthday NHS: 70 this week

Happy 70th NHS

Published on 29 June 2018

The NHS marks turning 70 on Thursday.

Over the years, the University of Sunderland has worked closely with the region’s health service, from training paramedics and nurses to this year’s announcement of a new School of Medicine.

But what does the future hold?

We speak to students, NHS leader and academics on the frontline about their thoughts on the Service and their hopes for the long-term future of UK healthcare.

 

 Kate Snowdon: Trainee Paramedic at University of Sunderland

 

What originally made you want to be part of the NHS?

I liked the idea of working out in the community and going to different places. Previously I worked in pubs and restaurants, so I knew I enjoyed working in a fast-paced environment and with the public. I also wanted a job that made me feel like I was contributing to something bigger than myself.

 

What is your earliest memory of needing/using the NHS?

I think my earliest memory of using the NHS would be visiting the dentist as a young child. I didn’t like going very much as I was quite nervous but the prospect of getting a sticker and a lolly for my time seemed like a solid investment.

 

What makes you most proud when it comes to the NHS?

I think the nature of our work promotes a very tight knit community which is evident in the way that front line staff supports each other. We attend to a lot of routine issues, transfers and rewarding emergencies with positive outcomes. But there are times when we face challenging situations involving violence, deteriorating patients and traumatic events. We are professionals and I am sure we all endeavour to act as such but equally we are simply human. There will always be jobs that are upsetting, frightening or stressful. Our colleagues are the first to help us deal with these emotions and I see it at work daily. We support, comfort and praise one another. It occurs from all the healthcare professions not just between ambulance workers. I think it reminds us that we are not alone in our profession but part of a larger team. This makes me proud to be part of the NHS.

 

What is the most rewarding thing about being part of the NHS?

For me I think the most rewarding thing about being part of the NHS is seeing the difference I have made to someone else. Most of the time this comes from small acts of consideration and not great heroics. Simple things like ringing relatives for the patient to inform them of the situation, helping a patient to pack a bag, checking that the property is locked up and the telly is switched off can really help to reduce a patient’s anxiety. One patient I attended to was worried about leaving her cats alone while she went to hospital. Her neighbour was a close friend, so we arranged for the neighbour to check in with the cats every few hours and make sure they were fed. The patient was so grateful and happy. It was only a small gesture but it dramatically improved that patient’s experience, the change in her attitude was evident as she joked and laughed the whole way to hospital.

 

What is the most frustrating thing about being part of the NHS?

I find it particularly difficult when patients have experienced long delays in receiving an ambulance. A lot of the time I am unaware of the delay until I arrive on scene and I am met with frustration and anger from the patient or their relatives. I can completely empathise with their frustrations and feel powerless to change that for them. It is an extremely complex situation and can be caused by a number of factors which are beyond my control. The only thing I can do is focus on the task at hand and provide the best service I can.

 

Where do you hope the NHS will be in 10 years’ time?

I would really like the NHS to be adopted as a role model across the world for the delivery of government run health services free at the point of use. But within the UK, I hope that the NHS will be better funded to cope with the expanding needs of an ageing population and advances in technology. I think that due to the changes in demographic I hope there will be more services available in the community and that people will be able to access care that is currently hospital based, in their own homes. I think that technological advances will be integrated to care. I hope that automation of routine tasks will mean that staff have more time to provide personalised and individual patient care.

 

Do you think the NHS will still be here in another 70 years?

Yes, there will always be a need for a co-ordinated, national healthcare organisation.  The NHS is a cornerstone of British society and is close to the hearts of the majority of people. It is difficult to predict how the NHS will adapt to future challenges especially due to the exponential changes we have seen since its creation. I think it will change and develop but it will still be here. 

 

If you could do another job anywhere in the NHS – what would it be, and why?

I honestly don’t think I would rather do another role but my own. I love my job and feel privileged to work for the ambulance service. Naturally I have good and bad days but I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

 

 

 Ken Bremner: Chief Executive of City Hospitals Sunderland Foundation Trust and University of Sunderland Honorary Graduate

 

What originally made you want to be part of the NHS?

It was aCommitment to public service.

 

 What is your earliest memory of needing/using the NHS?

I think it was having my tonsils removed, aged seven, at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

 

 What makes you most proud when it comes to the NHS?

Fantastic service, free to all and delivered by committed and highly skilled staff.

 

 What is the most rewarding thing about being part of the NHS?

Improving people’s health

 

 What is the most frustrating thing about being part of the NHS?

Negative headlines about the very small number of things that don’t go as planned.

 

 Where do you hope the NHS will be in 10 years time?

Still here, still free at the point of care but a better balance between hospitals and community care.

 

 Do you think the NHS will still be here in another 70 years?

Yes!

 

 If you could do another job anywhere in the NHS – what would it be, and why?

Nothing beats this one – but if I had to choose then NHS Chief Executive because it can influence the lives of millions of people, patients and staff.

 

 

 

 

Cassie Hicks: Student nurse at University of Sunderland

 

What originally made you want to be part of the NHS?

Seeing the care both my granddads have received and seeing how much pressure and stress the NHS is under, I thought I could help. I’m a people person and love to know what’s going on, so I knew I could make a good contribution

 

What is your earliest memory of needing/using the NHS?

Being in hospital myself in a children’s ward, being sent home before having to go onto an adult ward. This was scary and all the staff were amazing. From then on, I had to use the NHS for follow up appointments until I was better.

 

 What makes you most proud when it comes to the NHS?

How every member of staff regardless of shortages still puts patients at the heart of healthcare and still ensures every patient gets the care they need and deserve.

 

What is the most rewarding thing about being part of the NHS?

Giving care to the patients and seeing them get better or even just giving them good news. When someone is in hospital they are at their most vulnerable and to see them get better just makes you smile. 

 

What is the most frustrating thing about being part of the NHS?

There aren’t enough staff within the NHS to deal with the casualties which come in, it’s frustrating when you have to border patients out of the ward to get others in. I believe every patient is equal.

 

Where do you hope the NHS will be in 10 years time?

I hope the NHS is still here in 10 years time and that more funding is put into it to ensure patients are still at the heart of the system, as well as staff stress levels being lowered.

 

Do you think the NHS will still be here in another 70 years?

I would hope the NHS will still be here in 70 years but if we don’t get funding and more nurses and doctors within the trusts then there is a high chance it may not be. This could cause so many problems for patients who use the services regularly. 

 

If you could do another job anywhere in the NHS - what would it be, and why? 

I wouldn’t choose another job in the NHS, I would stay as a nurse. I believe nursing is the first port of call for a patient’s care.

 

 

 Dr Yitka Graham, Senior Lecturer in Health Services and NHS Engagement, at the University of Sunderland

 

What originally made you want to get involved in working with the NHS?

I have always been interested in health, having worked alongside the NHS for most of my career. I worked for many years in pharmaceuticals before moving into academia, and it was this experience that made me want to continue to work with, and in the NHS as an academic researcher.

 

What is your earliest memory of needing/using the NHS?

When I first moved to the UK, I needed to register with a GP, and the staff at the surgery I chose were so helpful in getting me settled in.

 

What makes you most proud when it comes to the NHS?

I am proud that the NHS is free at the point of access, and strives to provide a high standard of care under very difficult circumstances.

 

What is the most rewarding thing about being involved with the NHS?

Working collaboratively with my NHS colleagues to identify, carry out and implement research that makes a positive difference to patient care and supports staff.

 

What is the most frustrating thing about being involved with the NHS?

My response is probably what the majority of my NHS colleagues would say, in that lack of resources. But to put a positive spin on it, it is these lack of resources that often bring about fantastic research questions, so we can work together to find realistic solutions to these.

 

Where do you hope the NHS will be in 10 years time?

I hope that many of the current difficulties will be resolved, with positive solutions to many of the existing difficulties implemented and sustained for both patient and staff benefit.

 

Do you think the NHS will still be here in another 70 years?

I strongly hope so and I think many of my NHS colleagues feel the same.

 

If you could do a job anywhere in the NHS – what would it be, and why?

I would do exactly the job I do now.  The role I have within the NHS  is constantly evolving in response to what is needed which makes it very interesting, and I work with some fantastic people who are a constant source of inspiration and support.

 

 

 NHS at 70: Timeline

 1948 - Creation of the NHS: On 5 July, then Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan formally launched the NHS. For the first time, health care became free to all.

 1952 - Charges introduced: Prescription charges were introduced: One shilling per prescription.

 1958 - First mass vaccination programme

Polio and diphtheria jabs offered to under 15s. This was a huge watershed as up until then there were 8,000 cases of polio and 70,000 of diphtheria each year.

 1961 – Contraceptive pill becomes available

The launch of the contraceptive pill gives women control over how many children they have.

 1962 - Birth of the modern hospital

Put forward by Health Minister Enoch Powell, set out a 10-year vision for hospital building. Every population of 125,000 was to get a hospital.

 1967 - Abortion Act

It made abortion legal up to 28 weeks if a woman's mental or physical health was at risk. Limit reduced to 24 weeks in 1990.

 1968 - UK's first heart transplant

Carried out in the National Heart Hospital in London, 18 doctors and nurses operated for seven hours on a 45-year-old man.

 1978 - World's first test tube baby

On 25 July, the world's first "test tube baby" was born shortly before midnight in Oldham District General Hospital. Weighing 5lb 12oz (2.61 kg), Louise Brown was delivered by caesarean section.

 1988 - Breast screening programme starts

To reduce breast cancer deaths in women over 50, breast screening was introduced. The screening, along with improved drug treatments, was estimated to have cut deaths by a fifth.

 1994 - Organ donor register created

It was the result of a five-year campaign by John and Rosemary Cox whose son Peter died in 1989. He had asked for his organs to be used to help others.

 2006 - Patient choice

Patients were given the choice of four or five hospitals, ending the long-held tradition of going where a GPs decides. The scheme has now been extended to include all hospitals in England.