Celebrating 73 Years of the NHS

A Blog by Dr Abaigh McKee, Training Development & Research Executive at Baby Lifeline

Featured Image kindly borrowed from Stella H. Benjamin Boston. SRN, SCM, STD, RN (3rd from the right in the top row)- her graduation in 1950 in the NHS. Read Stella’s story here, written by her son Nicholas Boston. If you are in this picture or know of anyone that is, Stella would love to reconnect and you can access her using her son’s email address: Nicholas.Boston@lehman.cuny.edu.

Today we say Happy 73rd Birthday to the NHS! Celebrating 73 years of healthcare that meets the needs of everyone, is free at the point of delivery, and is based on clinical need, not ability.

Since the birth of baby girl, Aneira – named after Minister of Health Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan – on 5 July 1948, more than 48 million babies have been born in the UK and cared for by the National Health Service.

The recognition of a need to provide healthcare followed in the wake of the death and devastation of the Second World War. Bevan envisioned a universal, comprehensive healthcare system that would promote equality for all, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Maternity Care is at the Heart of the NHS

Healthcare, nursing and midwifery roles have changed in the past 73 years and so has training provision. Though midwives continued to attend births and deliver babies, doctors have become increasingly involved in maternal care and interventions have become more commonplace as technology has improved. Recent statistics show that more than 97% of live births in the UK now occur in an NHS establishment, compared with around 64% during the 1950s.

There is still work to do to support maternity care

The NHS is a national treasure and a key part of British identity. Nevertheless, it still has work to do, particularly in the maternity sector. Recent registration data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows that there are nearly 40,000 midwives working in the UK, though there are major concerns over staff shortages.

Promoting equality for all

Staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds continue to make significant contributions to the British healthcare system: one in five nurses and midwives are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. However, non-white NHS employees are far more likely to experience discrimination than their white colleagues, and Black and Asian babies are twice as likely to be stillborn or die neonatally than white babies.

Though the number of perinatal deaths has reduced dramatically in the UK since 1948, we still have consistently higher rates of neonatal deaths and stillbirths compared with similar countries.

Baby Lifeline supports and trains healthcare staff to provide high-quality care based on pertinent findings in national reports and their recommendations. Our training reflects and encourages best clinical practice and communication to improve outcomes from care given to pregnant women, their unborn and newborn babies.

We recognise the NHS staff that work tirelessly to uphold its values, and look forward to supporting continued healthcare improvements in the years to come.

Happy 73rd Birthday to the NHS!

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