NHS 75th Birthday: Honouring the Legacy of Universal Healthcare in the UK


By Rania Ades

7/12/20236 min read

As the National Health Service (NHS) celebrates its 75th anniversary, we pay tribute to the beloved institution that has been a cornerstone of British society since its founding in 1948. The NHS has been a beacon of hope and a symbol of compassion.

It is often described as “the Envy of the World” because of its universal healthcare system providing free healthcare to all citizens and residents of the United Kingdom.

Despite the challenges it has faced over the years, the NHS remains a source of pride and admiration for the British people, with many people considering it the country’s greatest achievement. It has truly been a lifeline for millions of people, providing care and support in times of need.

The NHS has been a shining example of what can be achieved when people come together to work towards a common goal. It has been a source of inspiration for healthcare systems around the world, and its success has been a testament to the power of collective action.

As we celebrate the NHS’s 75th anniversary, we pay tribute to the staff who have made it all possible. We salute the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who have dedicated their lives to caring for others.

We thank the support staff who work behind the scenes to keep the NHS running smoothly. We must also honour the volunteers who give their time and energy to help those in need.

Where do we even begin to tell the story of this truly unique institution? Perhaps if we look first at the key principles on which it was founded, we will get a glimpse into its soul.

Key Principles on Which the NHS Was Founded

The NHS is founded on a common set of principles and values that bind together the communities and people it serves — patients and the public — and the staff who work for it. The NHS Constitution for England establishes the principles and values of the NHS in England. Some of the key principles that guide the NHS are:

The Most Inclusive Institution in the UK, if not The World

The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all irrespective of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment status, religion, or belief. It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and it respects their human rights. The NHS has also relied on staff from across the world, making it a truly diverse and inclusive institution.

Aspires to the Highest Standards of Excellence and Professionalism

The NHS aspires to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism — in the provision of high-quality care that is safe, effective, and focused on patient experience; in the planning and delivery of the clinical and other services it provides; in the people it employs and the education, training, and development they receive; in the leadership and management of its organisations.

Works Across Organisational Boundaries and in Partnerships

The NHS works across organisational boundaries and in partnership with other organisations in the interest of patients, local communities, and the wider population. It is an integrated system of organisations and services bound together by the principles and values now reflected in the Constitution.

Access to Services is Based on Clinical Need, not Ability to Pay

Access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay. The welfare of the patient is at the heart of everything the NHS does.


The NHS is committed to providing the best value for taxpayers’ money. The NHS is accountable to the public, communities, and patients that it serves.

These principles are underpinned by core NHS values which have been derived from extensive discussions with staff, patients, and the public. The values include working together for patients, respect and dignity, commitment to quality of care, compassion, improving lives, and everyone counts. The NHS has been guided by these principles and values for the past 75 years, and they have been instrumental in shaping the NHS into the beloved institution that it is today.

Notable Achievements of the NHS Over the Past 75 Years

The NHS has been at the forefront of medical innovation, with many world-firsts in medical procedures and treatments. Over the past 75 years, the NHS has achieved many notable accomplishments that have made a significant impact on the lives of millions of people. Some of the most significant achievements of the NHS are:

The World’s First IVF Birth

In 1978, Louise Brown became the world’s first baby to be born through in vitro fertilization (IVF), a ground-breaking medical procedure that has since helped millions of couples around the world to conceive.

Eradication of polio in the UK

Thanks to the NHS’s vaccination program, the UK was declared polio-free in 2003, a significant achievement that has helped to prevent the spread of this debilitating disease.

First-Ever Triple Transplant — Heart, Lungs, and Liver

In 1986, the NHS performed the world’s first-ever triple transplant, giving a new lease of life to a patient who had been suffering from heart, lung, and liver failure.

Bionic Eyes

In 2012, the NHS introduced bionic eyes, a revolutionary new technology that has helped to restore sight to people who were previously blind.

The UK’s Covid-19 vaccine Development and Rollout

In 2020, the NHS played a crucial role in the development and rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, which has helped to save countless lives and bring an end to the pandemic.

These achievements are just a few examples of the many ways in which the NHS has made a significant impact on the lives of people in the UK and around the world.

NHS 75th Anniversary
NHS 75th Anniversary

NHS 75th Birthday

Honouring the Legacy of Universal Healthcare in the UK

NHS 75th Anniversary © Rania Ades Author

NHS 75th Anniversary
NHS 75th Anniversary

Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the NHS © Rania Ades - Author

How The NHS Evolved Since Inception in 1948

The NHS has undergone significant changes and evolution since its inception in 1948. Here are some of the key milestones in the history of the NHS:

Creation of the NHS

The NHS was founded in 1948, providing free healthcare to all citizens and residents of the United Kingdom. It brought hospitals, doctors, nurses, and dentists together under one service.

Expansion of Services

Over the years, the NHS has expanded its services to include a wide range of treatments and procedures, from routine check-ups to complex surgeries. It has also introduced new technologies and treatments, such as bionic eyes and IVF as mentioned above.

Changes in Organisation

The NHS has undergone several changes in its organisational structure over the years. In 1974, the NHS was reorganised into regional health authorities, and in 1991, it was restructured again into NHS trusts.

NHS 75th Anniversary Celebrations
NHS 75th Anniversary Celebrations

NHS 75th Birthday © Rania Ades - Author

A Range of Challenges

The NHS is currently facing a range of challenges, including, staff shortages as mentioned above, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit which led to a reduction in the number of EU staff working in the NHS.

Funding is another major challenge. While the NHS has seen an increase in funding over the past 25 years, there are concerns that it is not enough to meet the growing demand for healthcare services. The NHS is facing significant financial pressures, and there are concerns about the sustainability of the service in the long term.

The NHS is also facing the challenge of digitalisation, including the need to develop new technologies and systems to support the delivery of healthcare services. This includes the need to improve the use of data and analytics to support decision-making and improve patient outcomes.

It is also facing the challenge of an ageing population, with increasing numbers of people living with complex health needs. This is putting pressure on healthcare services, particularly in areas such as social care and mental health.

Measures to Face Current Challenges

To address these challenges, the NHS is taking a range of measures, including developing a national workforce strategy to address staffing shortages and improve recruitment and retention. It is also investing in new technologies and systems to support the delivery of healthcare services. The NHS is also working with local government and other parts of society to improve people’s wellbeing and address the underlying causes of poor health.

The NHS is facing significant challenges, but it is also taking steps to address these challenges and improve the delivery of healthcare services to patients. The ongoing evolution of the NHS will be shaped by these challenges and the responses to them.

Despite these changes and challenges, the NHS remains a beloved institution that has provided free healthcare to millions of people over the past 75 years. The NHS has evolved and adapted to meet the changing needs of society, and it will continue to do so in the years to come.

The NHS remains a source of pride and admiration for the British people, it has been there for us all during the darkest moments of our lives and we owe a debt of gratitude to the dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly to keep us healthy and safe.

As we celebrate this milestone anniversary, let us remember the sacrifices that have been made to build and maintain this beloved institution. And let us pledge to support the NHS in the years to come, so that it may continue to serve the people of the United Kingdom with the same dedication and compassion that it has shown for the past 75 years.

Happy 75th Anniversary!