The UK’s National Health Service was launched on 5 July 1948. It was founded on three core principles:
A key challenge for the NHS would be addressing how the healthcare needs of the population change over time and in different places. As a result, it has become more localised and independent, with considerable local autonomy and regular collaborations with industry, particularly in research.
One of its most important relationships is with universities, which supply a large part of its most precious asset: staff. Since 1948, medical degrees in the UK have been designed to produce graduates who are ready for the NHS. This means that everything a medical school does must have the health service and its patients in mind.
As well as providing future doctors, nurses and pharmacists, along with many other health professions, universities work with the NHS to develop new skills and ideas. This is often the role of clinical academics, who work both at an NHS Trust and its affiliated university. Their research produces new treatments and methodologies, constantly improving the care that that can be offered.
This page will take you through some examples of how universities have contributed to the health service in its first 70 years, through changes in education and through some of the biggest innovations in medical research and practice.