July 2023 marked the 75th anniversary of the NHS. Established in 1948, the National Health Service stands as a pivotal milestone in the UK’s healthcare provision. It was founded on the principle of providing healthcare services to all citizens, free at the point of use, regardless of their ability to pay.
The roots of this transformative initiative can be traced back to a long-standing struggle for equitable healthcare.
Before the NHS, healthcare in the UK was a patchwork of private practitioners, charitable institutions, and a limited state-run service. The inequalities in healthcare access were glaring, with many unable to afford adequate medical care.
World War II acted as a catalyst for change. The post-war Labour Government recognised the urgent need for a comprehensive, publicly funded healthcare system.
Always with the best interests of doctors in mind, the BMA was an influential stakeholder during the formation of the NHS, engaging in intense negotiations with the Government, expressing concerns about the potential effect on doctors' working conditions, and remuneration.
The BMA sought to ensure the NHS would uphold professional standards and guarantee fair treatment for healthcare professionals. Its involvement, while initially met with resistance and apprehension, eventually led to an historic agreement.
During the years, the BMA has worked collaboratively with the NHS and the Government to address challenges, improve healthcare delivery, and advocate for better working conditions and patient care.
To celebrate the longstanding alliance between the NHS and the BMA, we are showcasing a history of our relationship, with the NHS75 exhibition – you can visit in person at BMA House, London, or view in our online exhibition.
NHS75 Exhibition: Honouring the legacy of our alliance
Visit the exhibition in the Hastings Room at BMA House, London, or view some of the displays in our online exhibition below.