The NHS reaches its 69th birthday
Established by the Labour Party on the 5th July 1948, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom has reached its 69th birthday. Providing much needed healthcare to thousands, who had previously been denied access essential services, the NHS suddenly became ‘available to all’ at point of delivery within England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, embedding three core principles; to meet the needs of everyone, be free at point of delivery, and all care to be based on clinical need, not financials.
Employing approximately 1.6 million people across the United Kingdom, we take a brief look at te history of the NHS.
1948 – 1960
The NHS was established at a time where railways and electricity became nationalised, against a worldwide sombre mood from the Second World War.
In 1952, prescription charges came into force, which still survives today. Additionally. The Nurses Act cam into force, which established Regional Nurse Training Committees.
- The link between smoking and lung cancer is established by British scientist Sir Richard Doll, as well as the development of new, effective drugs and treatments, alongside developments in cardiology and radiology.
- The double helix in DNA is revealed by pioneers Watson and Crick.
- Ultrasound within obstetrics becomes standardised
- The polio and diphtheria vaccination is made available to all
- The first kidney transplant is performed on a set of twins
- Royal Free hospital breached data protection in deal with Google's DeepMind
- Boston, Philadelphia and Cincinnati are the best US states for paediatric healthcare in America
- Will printed 3D organs be part of the future? Advanced Solutions thinks so
1961 – 1981
- Radical changes to heart surgery are made, such as coronary artery bypass surgery and first NHS heart transplant, besides and establishment of hip replacements. The contraceptive pill is made available for women, paving the way for the ‘swinging sixties’
- The Abortion Act is also established in 1967
- The NHS organisation is reorganised a year after the UK merges with the EEC.
- Expectations of the NHS begin to peak, with a growing elderly population placing a strain on limited resources.
- CT Scans, MRI scans and keyhole surgery are introduced into the NHS, as well as bone marrow transplants
- Developments continue to be made in a number of medical fields. The first test tube baby is born, alongside the streamlining of services and increased GP involvement.
1982 – 2000
- NHS Direct is established, as well as The National Institute for Clinical Excellence
- The biggest public health campaign surrounding AIDS was released, but has since become a subject of negative prejudice.
- Heart, lung and liver transplants are made available, alongside breast screenings to detect the early onset of cancer
- Labour begins to place an increased interest in the NHS operations, with the establishment of walk in centres, donor registers and NHS trusts.
2001 – Present
- Patient choice is established, providing the public with greater education and options surrounding their ongoing healthcare needs
- Technology is becoming increasingly harnessed within medical facilities
- For young women, the HPV vaccine to target the human papilloma virus which is linked to cervical cancer, is introduced.
- Greater strain on NHS services, especially in areas such as mental health
- Increased populations and mass migration has led to rising job unemployment and increased public spending. Brexit will seek to test the waters further.
- Worldwide knowledge of healthcare has increased dramatically, as well as a large number of medical breakthroughs
- Labour ceased to be in power from 2010, with a majority conservative government taking hold.
NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency
Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government.
In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position."
Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans.
The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out.
Kevin Curran, senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server.
"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it.
"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released."
The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country.
"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives."