In the Department of Health and Social Care, along with the day to day work of keeping our fantastic NHS on track and continuing to deliver the best medical service in the world to the people of UK, we have been celebrating some anniversaries.
The Department of Health and Social Care, formerly the Ministry of Health, was founded 100 years ago under the Liberal and Conservative coalition of Lloyd George. This government department, made up of or our dedicated and impartial civil servants, provides the framework for our health and social care systems. There have been numerous important developments in the past 100 years in the Department, including clearing slums in 1930s, looking after the evacuated millions in WWII, the founding of the NHS, setting up social care, eradicating polio, closing old asylums, the drafting of the Children Act, fighting HIV and the fight against antimicrobial resistance. There’s so much to be proud of in the Department. And with our brilliant staff in tow, we can expect lots more developments and successes over the next 100 years.
Slightly younger than the Department of Health and Social Care, is the NHS itself, which recently celebrated the 71 years since its formation. Conservative MP and health minister Henry Willink first proposed the NHS in 1944, and it was established in 1948 as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War. The founding principles were that services should be comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. We have much to celebrate in the NHS, and most notably, in the past year, we have set out the NHS Long Term Plan and have backed this plan with £33.9 billion of new funding. Nothing says more about the importance and significance of the NHS to all of us, than the government’s commitment to the NHS with this historic amount of funding. The NHS has a special place in the heart of the nation, and I am determined to see it thrive, for years to come. I celebrated the NHS’s 71st birthday at the brilliant West Suffolk Hospital, which is rated “outstanding”. The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is one of only seven general hospitals in England awarded the highest possible rating.
Our healthcare, and how it is delivered, must move with the times and take advantage of new technology and new and smarter ways of working to provide the best health outcomes for patients. Earlier this month, we announced the creation of NHSX. NHSX is the largest health and social care transformation programme in the world. Its mission is to bring first rate technology into the NHS to save staff time and save patients’ lives, by using technology to help health and care professionals communicate better and enable people to access the care they need quickly and easily, when it suits them. From websites and apps that make care and advice easy to access wherever you are, to connected computer systems that give staff the test results, history and evidence they need to make the best decisions for patients. The formation of NHSX is the bridge between healthcare and technology and I’m proud to have it as part of our NHS family.
From the birth of the Ministry of Health in 1919, to the formation of the NHS in 1948 to the creation of NHSX today in 2019, healthcare in the United Kingdom keeps moving with the times. And when we think of the how far we have come in the past 100 years, it is awe inspiring. Our NHS is the envy of the world, and with our incredible healthcare and ancillary staff, the use of the latest technology and the government’s commitment to long-term funding, the NHS is destined to go from strength to strength long into the future.