NHS@75 – An invitation to have your say

On Wednesday 5 July 2023, the NHS will turn 75 years old. This significant milestone is an opportunity to celebrate, reflect on the past, and look ahead to the future.

It remains one of our most precious national assets, and is the institution that the public have said makes them most proud to be British; built on the effort, skill, and commitment of its staff, the support of its patients and service users, and strong relationships with the communities it serves.

Although the NHS’s founding principles have remained constant since its inception in 1948, the treatments it provides, the tests it can perform, and its preventative care services (including screening and vaccinations) have undergone significant changes. As we reflect on the progress made over the past 75 years, and how far we have come, it is essential to consider what the future holds, and this is where you can help.

This breadth of support has been central to our role as Co-Chairs of the NHS Assembly, a group whose membership includes those who make, use, and value the NHS. It brings together clinical and operational leaders, frontline staff, patients, charities and community organisations and other partners to provide independent advice to the Board of NHS England. In its four years of operation, the NHS Assembly has maintained a close working relationship with NHS England’s Chief Executive and Chair, who have taken our reflections on board in their decision making.

It is why we as the NHS Assembly have now been asked, by NHS England, to draw together collective insights on the NHS today, its recent history, take stock of our latest learnings and highlight future opportunities and challenges.

To build a bridge to the future, we must first ask where it needs to take us, and while the NHS Assembly is ready to go forward on this work, it cannot be a success without the wider sector’s input and support.

We are therefore inviting patients, carers, staff, and the wider health and care community, to share their thoughts, which will be used to inform findings that will be shared with NHS England ahead of the 75th Birthday.

We are seeking ideas on three questions:

  • Where has the NHS come from?
  • Where is the NHS now?
  • How does the NHS best serve us into the future?

Using this feedback, we will build upon themes and ideas that have formed our recent discussions in the NHS Assembly:

  • prevention: allowing people to live longer, healthier lives
  • personalisation: giving people power to control their own health
  • people: caring for those who care for us
  • primary and community care: building on the foundation of primary/community care, and improve outcomes
  • partnerships: creating teams without walls, and empowering communities.

To provide a framework for effective conversations, the NHS Assembly has published a conversation guide and online feedback form. These documents will provide the framework to discuss the above questions in a meaningful way.

The NHS@75 engagement will run from Tuesday 2 to Friday 26 May 2023. We are asking for feedback on the questions in the conversation guide as soon as you are able, with a final deadline of 23.59 on Friday 26 May. You can find more information, including the link to the online feedback form, on the NHS Assembly webpage.

While the timescale is tight, we are confident that with the sector’s support we can capture insights that can help to inform the future of our NHS.

We would like as many colleagues as possible to join the conversation. We encourage you to make your voices heard.

Chris Ham is currently Co-Chair of the NHS Assembly, Emeritus Professor of health policy and management at the University of Birmingham, and Senior Visiting Fellow at The King’s Fund, where he was Chief Executive between 2010 and 2018. He served as chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care System from 2019 to 2021.

Chris was awarded a CBE for his services to the NHS in 2004 and a knighthood for services to health policy and management in 2018. He is a founding fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and holds honorary fellowships with both the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of General Practitioners. He became a companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management in 2006.

Professor Dame Clare Gerada

Professor Dame Clare Gerada is a Co-Chair of the NHS Assembly, and President of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). She has practiced medicine for over 35 years, and has been a driving force behind efforts to provide more wellbeing support for NHS staff. As well as being the first female Chair of the RCGP in 50 years, Clare has held leadership roles with the Department of Health and Social Care, and is on the Council of the British Medical Association.

In the Millennium Birthday Honours, Clare received an MBE for services to medicine and substance misuse, and was awarded a damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020. She was awarded a fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 2008 and was made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in July 2013.