Yesterday the National Health Service turned seventy. It’s founder Aneurin Bevan, often known as “Nye” was appointed Minister of Health following Labour’s landslide victory in the 1945 General Election after the war. Bevan has been described by many as a revolutionary as he fought hard for funding. Shortly after his appointment, he resigned from the government in protest over the introduction of prescription charges for dental care and glasses, but continued to challenge authority fighting for his beliefs.
The NHS was founded on an idea that anyone should be able to access medical care regardless of his or her financial situation. Over the last seventy years Nye’s legacy has eradicated polio and diphtheria, pioneered liver, heart and lung transplants and made a society that cares for its most vulnerable.
Jesus was a revolutionary and challenged the beliefs of the time; His commandment to ‘love one another’ John 13:34, is at the heart of the Christian faith. Serving others, saving lives, offering a listening ear and walking alongside people in their suffering is the DNA of the NHS and beautifully mirrors the heart of Jesus’ message that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity.
The Church continues to play a vital part in the NHS today through the work of hospital chaplains who have an important role in caring for the whole person.
I am sure we have all benefited from the NHS in some way. I am personally grateful for the NHS for all that they have done for me and my family and thank God for the extraordinary NHS staff – the everyday heroes – who are there to guide, support and care for us, day in, day out.