Today, the National Health Service is 70 years old. The NHS touches the lives of every person in the country. The Trust you work in stands as an important and highly-regarded part of that service, filled with countless examples of great care and great professionalism.
There’s rightly much reflection this week about how the NHS came about; the climax of a hugely ambitious national plan to bring good healthcare to all.
Two things stood out for me from the history lessons we’re hearing. Firstly, that in the 1940s there was increasingly a view that there was a better way of delivering healthcare, and secondly, a view that health care is a right, not something that should just be left to charity, luck or the depth of your purse.
For Mersey Care right now, the right to the best care – for body and for mind – is absolutely where we’re at. The last few years and our new services have made that very clear. One of the great achievements of the NHS has been that it brings social cohesion. Free at the point of use, and therefore paid for by general taxation, it means that we don’t distinguish one citizen from another other than on the basis of need. We should not underestimate this subtle but important message right across our society.
And yes, finding better ways to deliver remains crucial. This means our BHAGS: our vision for Perfect Care in a Just and Learning Culture. Rightly, we are getting lots of positive attention for our actions in these areas. The NHS is unique and precious and the best way to protect it is to continue to improve it. We don’t get everything right but our most important contribution now is to commit to continuous improvement and become ‘constructively restless’ to ensure that we not only remain central to relieving suffering but become equally relevant to people living well.
As your Chief Executive, I am proud that we’re playing a major part in bringing that parity to physical and mental health, and that our staff survey results show that our cultural changes matter to you. I’m really proud of the great work you do.
Keep caring, keep working for our patients and our service users. If you can, join us for our free family day at Aintree on Saturday from around 10.30 to 1.30pm where there will be everything from advice stalls to face painting, and from healthy activities to a doughnut wall. It seems a typically British way to celebrate.
Happy 70th to the NHS and thank you all.