‘No society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.’
That’s what Aneurin Bevan, Minister for Health in the UK (1945-1951) argued. Inspired by his vision, the Labour Party established the National Health Service in 1948, under the founding principles that good health care should be available to all, regardless of wealth. The NHS has been providing comprehensive, universal and free healthcare ever since.
During the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics, the NHS was described as ‘the institution which more than any other unites our nation.’ And now, with the country under the Coronavirus lockdown, as we stand on our doorsteps to applaud our health workers on a Thursday evening, it has certainly proven to be the institution to which we turn in our hour of need and value the most.
Today Bevan’s message remains truer than ever as NHS staff risk their lives to care for the sick, vulnerable and needy while treating us all with human dignity, compassion and respect.