Social Philosophy

The NHS at 70

Sir David Dalton
3rd October 2018, 7:15pm

On 5 July 1948, the National Health Service was launched at Davyhulme Park Hospital in Manchester (known today as Trafford General Hospital). For the first time hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella to provide services for every person, free of charge at the point of delivery.


Over the last 70 years the NHS has transformed the health and well-being of the nation and become the envy of the world. It has delivered huge medical advances and improvements to public health meaning we can all expect to live longer lives. It is thanks to the NHS that we have all but eradicated diseases such as polio and diphtheria, and pioneered new treatments like the world's first liver, heart and lung transplant. In more recent times we have seen innovations like mechanical thrombectomy to improve stroke survival, bionic eyes to restore sight, and surgical breakthroughs such as hand transplants.  


Is it any wonder, then, that the NHS has been described as “the closest thing the English have to a religion”. And yet, just as it receives adoration, so does it receive criticism – of not enough money, too many managers, long waiting times and spiralling clinical negligence claims. There continue to be ‘tragic stories’ too, such as Harold Shipman, Mid Staffs and more recently Gosport Hospital.


Life expectancy has risen dramatically over the 70 years of the NHS: the average life expectancy for a man in 1948 was 63 and it is now 79; for women it was 71 and now it is 83; in 1948 34 babies died for every 1,000 born, in 2018 this infant mortality rate is now 3.8/1,000. Despite this there remain significant variations in health care outcomes and health care efficiency. How do we make sense of the contradictions and juxtapositions? How do we understand the reality and complexities of one of the largest organisations in the world?


About the Speaker

Sir David Dalton, Chief Executive of the Northern Care Alliance (comprising Salford, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham and North Manchester Care Organisations), will explore what has changed over 70 years and will provide his views on how the National Health Service should be focussing on continued improvement over the forthcoming decades. 


Sir David is one of the most experienced Chief Executives in the NHS, having served as a CEO for over 24 years. Most recently, 17 of these years have been at Salford Royal - the only Trust to have been rated as ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission on two consecutive occasions.


Image: Hope Hospital 1951



Menu for Supper

Braised beef with creamy mash potato and seasonal vegetables with a red wine sauce

Rosemary and red onion vegetarian sausages with creamy mash potato and seasonal vegetables

Lemon tart with raspberry coulis

Fresh fruit salad

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