For the past 70 years the NHS has been a mainstay of our society, offering free health care to everyone in the UK, no matter who they are or where they are from.

It is vital for a healthy, flourishing nation. A healthy society is not one that simply treats us when we are ill, but one that sees how health is shaped by political, social, economic and cultural factors that influence our health, and takes action on these for future generations.

On its 70th birthday the NHS faces significant challenges; ongoing workforce and funding pressures need to be met with long-term thinking to ensure that quality of care is not compromised in the future. While these challenges need to be addressed, transforming a system as diverse and complex as the NHS will not happen with a single structural, funding or technological solution. If we are to improve the quality of health care then it is essential that there is a greater focus on supporting and investing in the people on the frontline who work tirelessly to deliver care for patients.

Our work with the BBC

To mark this anniversary, the BBC asked the Health Foundation, Institute for Fiscal Studies, The King’s Fund and the Nuffield Trust to look at five central issues currently facing the NHS. These issues are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the national health service, its funding, the state of social care, the public’s expectations of the NHS, and the potential of technology to change things in the future.

Each issue is discussed in a separate briefing and is intended to inform and encourage a national conversation about the past, present, and future of the NHS. The briefings are supported and informed by opinion polls that looked into these five issues that are currently relevant to the NHS.

During the week commencing 25 June, we will be publishing briefings on five key areas of concern, framed around the following questions.

NHS70 logos

A Mile in My Shoes

A Mile in My Shoes is an immersive experience developed with The Empathy Museum, which allows people to step into the shoes of people working in health and social care to see the world through their eyes. Re-imagined for digital audiences, you can now share in this experience online. 

Power of people

Our series of five short films is a unique and moving take on how the lives of people using health services and their families can be improved through the determined efforts of people working in health care. 

Power of people

Policy Navigator

Explore the history of NHS reform with our dedicated microsite, including timelines of six key policy themes.

Screenshot of Policy Navigator homepage