Happy 70th birthday greetings to our good old friend, the NHS, which is compassion in action.
Some remember the dark decades before the NHS when working people died prematurely because they couldn’t afford to see the doctor, and child birth deaths were much more common.
The NHS is not, of course, free.
We pay through our taxes and have every right to expect value for money.
But it is largely free at the point of use and need.
We usually don’t have to worry about being able to afford our health, a bonus that other countries envy.
This health milestone provides opportunities for reflection and reform to catch up with massive social changes since 1948.
The NHS was conceived when most people didn’t make 70 but life expectancy has soared.
But that means more people with chronic conditions.
And the crisis in social care means hospitals have to take up the slack for the lack of care places for the elderly.
We should do more, for instance, in marrying health and housing policy.
Because slashing health inequalities means increased child health, which suffers in poor housing.
The Government will spend more on the NHS although not enough to radically shorten queues and accelerate vital treatment.
But money isn’t the only issue. We need reform to keep this vast sector on its toes and do more to reduce drug costs, as well as keeping ourselves fit and healthy.
Let’s make sure the NHS thrives and delivers social justice.