Happy birthday, NHS
By Simon Whalley, Chairman at Birtley House
The NHS, one of the UK’s most iconic, respected and essential institutions, turned 70 on 5 July. The well-deserved plaudits failed, however, to recognise that the ‘free for all’ system was built on a structure that already provided highly skilled nurses and doctors but failed to fully recognise how important the support of the care sector would be.
With the continual debate around the future of the NHS relentlessly discussed in the media, particularly with reference to the pressure it is under amidst the backdrop of shrinking government budget, let us not forget all that it has done for the UK population in the seven decades since it was born.
And whilst we reflect on the NHS’s key achievements, I feel that now is probably an opportune time to point out that even before the NHS was brought to life, there were some innovators that were delivering social care in both the charitable and private sectors
Amongst these were Birtley House Nursing Home, which was founded by Eyhurst Court Ltd, an already successful long-standing care home business.
Founded by Dr Lloyd Driver – my Grandfather – who, prior to the First World War, helped pioneer the medical use of X-rays and acted as an army surgeon during the War, started to take patients suffering from mental illness into his own home. The several years spent providing care prior to the nursing home’s registration in 1932, means that Birtley House – the name adopted from the house in 1945 - is probably the oldest family-owned care home in the UK.
Just as Birtley House has evolved over the years, the NHS continues to evolve in line with the needs of the population and in accordance with government budgets. Moves to bring ‘health’ and ‘care’ together are very welcome but there is still a long way to go. My only hope is that, despite the strain it is under, the Government continues to deliver what it originally set out to achieve, which was to provide an inclusive service that afforded everyone the access to good care and the dignity that each and every one of us deserves at times of need.
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