As our NHS is now 70, it’s easy to forget that its roots lie in many municipal and benevolent organisations that can sometimes measure their history in centuries rather than decades.
Before the NHS, those who could afford to pay were often asked to make a contribution but healthcare was also provided on a charitable basis to those of limited means. But care was by no means guaranteed in all cases.
The NHS changed all that – it made healthcare a universal right, free at the point of delivery. It revolutionised people’s lives and helped to build a more healthy and prosperous country.
From the start, however, the NHS had to make do with what came before. Buildings that were often designed for another age were adapted to welcome everyone and, understandably, energies were channelled into improving outcomes. With ever-growing demand for its services, it was almost inevitable that money would be channelled into clinical innovation rather than bricks and mortar.
In some respects we are now seeing a coming-of-age of our healthcare system. In many cases for the first time in the NHS era we are seeing brand new facilities being delivered – and their predecessors being given a new lease of life.
The NHS is about collective endeavour and hard work. It is caring about people that you will often not know and may never even meet. But everything that everyone does has one aim: to make things just that little bit better for someone in their time of need. New buildings might only play a small part, but we are proud to have helped make that difference.