The National Health Service (NHS) is the name commonly used to refer to the four publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom, collectively or individually, although only the health service in England uses the name 'National Health Service' without further qualification. The publicly-funded healthcare organisation in Northern Ireland does not use the term 'National Health Service', but is still commonly referred to as the 'NHS'.
Forming the basis of healthcare in the United Kingdom, each system operates independently, and is politically accountable to the relevant devolved government of Scotland (Scottish Government), Wales (Welsh Assembly Government) and Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive), and to the Westminster Parliament for England.
Originally, three services (one for England and Wales, one for Scotland and one for Northern Ireland) were established by separate pieces of legislation and began operating on 5 July 1948. The Department of Health had responsibility for the NHS in England and Wales, the Scottish Office had responsibility for the NHS in Scotland and the Government of Northern Ireland had responsibility for public health in Northern Ireland. Following the creation of a Welsh Office in 1964, responsibility for public health services in Wales was transferred to it from the Department of Health in 1969.. In turn, responsibility for NHS Wales and NHS Scotland transferred from the Welsh Office and Scottish Office to the Welsh Department of Health and Social Services and the Scottish Government Health Department, respectively, under devolution in 1999.
There is no discrimination when a patient resident in one country of the United Kingdom requires treatment in another. The consequent financial matters and paperwork of such inter-working are dealt with between the organisations involved and there is generally no personal involvement by the patient comparable to that which might occur when a resident of one European Union member country receives treatment in another.
The Investor's Business Daily stated that people like Stephen Hawking would not survive under the NHS. However, they clearly did not conduct any research, as Hawking has lived under the NHS his entire life and it was well in place when he was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in his early 20s. Especially stupid conservatives went on to claim that Hawking only got excellent treatment because we was a globally known scientist, neglecting the fact that when Hawking was diagnosed, he was just another penniless student. Hawking has stated that he would not have survived without the NHS.
adaptied from Wikipedia.
- 'BIRTH OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE | How the state of the nation's health became a political ideal', a BBC Archive collection of programmes and documents.
- Celebrating 60 years of the NHS in Scotland (useful insight into the distinct development of public healthcare in Scotland)
- NHS Choices The NHS website
- [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_National_Health_Service History of the National Health Service]