The NHS at 70

70 years of the nhs

The National Health Service is turning 70 on 5 July 2018.

As we celebrate this important milestone, Resuscitation Council UK is taking a reflective look at what we value about the NHS through the experiences, beliefs and memories of the members of our Executive Committee and our  members of staff who have worked, or currently work, in the NHS. 

We are grateful, today and every day, for the NHS and the work done by the incredible people who work, often under incredible pressure, to keep the NHS functioning and providing care for over 1 million patients every 36 hours. [1]

Prof Jonathan Wyllie, RCUK President / Consultant Neonatologist, The James Cook University Hospital

J Wyllie

I have grown up with, and believe passionately in, high quality health care, available to all and free at the point of care. That is what the NHS delivers. The NHS has delivered care to my family and, whilst not perfect, has done a remarkable job overall. I and my colleagues strive to deliver the care we would wish for ourselves. 

I have a long-standing interest in resuscitation and effective training of professional colleagues to deliver the best care to those in extreme need. Hence I have been involved in APLS, and then NLS and ARNI. The latter two I helped develop and spread throughout the UK under the auspices of Resuscitation Council UK. I have had input in, and developed guidelines for, the Resuscitation and support of transition of babies at birth which are used throughout the NHS.

I get paid to do a job which is an absolute privilege. I am grateful to all the colleagues, parents and children who have taught me so much over the years. Sometimes, at the most stressful times for patients, parents and families we see the best and bravest of humanity which is often humbling. Perhaps my most valuable memory is of the interventional radiologist who saved my brother.

C Gwinutt

Dr Carl Gwinnutt, Past RCUK President / Emeritus Consultant

I spent the majority of my medical career working in the NHS. I was a Consultant Anaesthetist for 24 years, and before that a trainee doctor for 8 years. Now that I am retired, I hold the post of Emeritus Consultant. The NHS is essential to our society. It ensures that every member of our society is able to receive treatment regardless of their social status or income, free of charge.

It’s been a career full of valuable memories for me - especially with regards to working with many wonderful healthcare professionals, and the staff that support them. I have wonderful memories of many events that occurred during my time working in the NHS. However, the most precious is when, as a junior doctor, I met a young woman working in the same hospital who later became my wife and mother to our two children!

Jas Soar

Dr Jasmeet Soar, RCUK Executive Committee Member / Consultant Intensivist and Anaesthetist, Southmead Hospital Bristol

The NHS has cared for my family and also trained me to become the doctor that I am today. It is important to me as it has given me the opportunity to provide high quality care based on clinical need, irrespective of a person’s background.

Isabelle Hamilton-Bower
Isabelle Hamilton-Bower, RCUK Courses Manager / Lead Nurse for Resuscitation, St Georges Hospital

I love my job in the NHS because I have the best of all worlds. I work clinically as a member of the resuscitation team and I teach Trust staff vital lifesaving skills. I also monitor and work to improve patient care and outcomes. I feel I can practically contribute to saving lives which is really important to me. I genuinely believe that healthcare should be available to everyone and am proud to be part of an organisation that provides healthcare to all irrespective of an ability to pay.

My most valuable memories have all been about the people I have met throughout my life in the NHS. The NHS has allowed me to meet wonderful patients and relatives, who I have had the privilege to get to know and assist at a time when they are vulnerable; as well as having the opportunity to work with brilliant, caring, like-minded staff; and sharing knowledge and skills with people inside and outside the NHS. 
David Pitcher

Dr David Pitcher, Past RCUK President / Retired Consultant Cardiologist

I spent the majority of my career working as a Consultant Cardiologist in Hereford, and later in Worcester. In both of those NHS hospitals, I set up cardiac pacing and catheterisation services. Between 1973 and 2015, I implanted pacemakers in around 3,000 patients.

The NHS is capable of delivering superb, joined-up care and treatment to people in the UK, whoever and wherever they are. Like all healthcare professionals and their families, my family and I are also patients or potential patients in need of high-quality care and treatment. None of us knows when we may need it, but it is there for us.

It’s hard to say what memories I found most valuable through my time in the NHS - there are so many, and I have difficulty in picking just one. I have always found it immensely satisfying to ensure that people received truly person-centred care.

Matt Griffiths
Prof Matt Griffiths, RCUK Executive Committee Member / Nurse Practitioner

After many years of working in accident and emergency and as a BASICS practitioner for the ambulance service, I now work in an urgent treatment centre seeing out of hours emergencies as a nurse practitioner. I am also heavily involved in many non-medical prescribing initiatives and help develop both professional guidelines and clinical policies.
The NHS has and always will be the flagship of UK citizens in that everyone can get treatment no matter what their social or financial background. Its principle is that it’s a fair system that cares for all. 

I seem to have been an NHS patient quite often recently and I have seen the NHS from both sides. Being a patient and feeling vulnerable has hopefully made me a better clinician. 

Joe Fawke

Dr Joe Fawke, RCUK Executive Committee Member / Consultant Neonatologist

The NHS is an amazing institution; it faces huge challenges and achieves a lot despite issues of staffing, funding, clinical complexity and changing population demographics. Its greatest strength is its workforce who have kept things going for 70 years despite situations that at times border on the unsustainable.

The staff I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, they are dedicated, amazing people who try to do the best for their patients. There remains camaraderie amongst NHS staff and ability to make things work often in suboptimal circumstances. I still enjoy coming to work every day and given my time again would follow the same career path.

[1]Department of Health, Chief Executive's report to the NHS: December 2005