By Frank Keogh, West Midlands RISC
Next month we celebrate the greatest gift our movement has given to the people of this country, Our NHS is 65. The NHS was created out of the ideal that safe, quality healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. When it was launched by the then minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on July 5 1948, it was based on three core principles:
• that it meet the needs of everyone
• that it be free at the point of delivery
• that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
For many of us it is difficult to imagine life before the NHS, when healthcare was unreliable and treatment had to be paid for. It was the first time, anywhere in the world, that completely free healthcare was made available on the basis of citizenship and need rather than the payment of fees or insurance premiums.
The man who brought the health service into being was Aneurin Bevan, a Welsh miner who became a Labour politician. Nye Bevan was handed the responsibility for healthcare and housing by the new prime minister, Clement Attlee, in the first post-Second World War government. Bevan fought passionately for the NHS. In Parliament on February 9 1948 he urged ministers and doctors to “take pride in the fact that, despite our financial and economic anxieties, we are still able to do the most civilised thing in the world, put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration”.
On 5 July 1948, Bevan got his wish and our healthcare changed for the better forever. Our NHS was born.
Sixty five years on and we are leading the fight to ensure that in England the NHS that Bevan created remains committed to those core principles. Our campaigning work against this Tory-led government that is hell-bent on taking us back in time to before 1948 remains our number one priority. With their Health and Social Care Act and Section 75 regulations they aim to take us backwards and destroy Bevan’s legacy. We will continue to fight for our NHS, but whilst we continue the fight, we must also pause to celebrate. Across the nation we must join with our colleagues, friends and families and celebrate Bevan’s vision and determination to create our NHS.
Join us celebrate his achievement on 5th July hold a celebration of the NHS in your workplace, community, village, town or city, let’s get our communities together and honour a great man who achieved something that has stood the test of time and is the envy of many around the world. Click here for details of events we are supporting.
We Love our NHS so do millions of people across the nation, as Bevan said “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it" and we will keep that fight going, but let’s take time to celebrate, and remember why we need to fight.