What is the NHS?
The NHS stands for the National Health Service. It is the health service that everybody in the UK can use when they become poorly or injured, to help them to get better. It is ‘free at the point of use’, which means people can be treated for free when they are poorly. It is paid for through taxes, which is money that UK adults pay to the government.
It includes doctors, nurses, surgeons, ambulance drivers, opticians, paramedics, midwifes, psychologists and other people whose job it is to make sure people stay healthy.
Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has grown to become the world’s largest publicly funded health service; it is also one of the most efficient, most egalitarian and most comprehensive.
The NHS was born out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth – a principle that remains at its core.
The NHS started in 1948, as the government believed that everyone should be able to get healthcare – no matter how much or little money they had. Before the NHS, people would usually have to pay to get help if they got ill.
The sacrifices made during the war led to the belief that Britain needed to become a fairer society and access to medical treatment was an important part of this. Free medical treatment had been provided during the war and people wanted this to continue.