5 interesting NHS facts 1440 x 639
13 June 2018

Aneurin Bevan created the NHS

Aneurin Bevan worked on the principal that the NHS should meet the needs of everybody, be free at the point of delivery, and based on clinical needs and not the ability to pay; he was the Minister of Health from 1945 to 1951 and a long-standing Member of Parliament up until his death in 1960.

Aneurin once said: “The collective principle asserts that…no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.”[1]

The NHS is the largest employer in the UK and 5th largest in the world

NHS England is the UK’s biggest employer, closely followed by NHS Scotland. The NHS employs a total of approximately 1.5 million people across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It’s also the world’s fifth largest employer behind the US Department of Defence, China’s People Liberation Army, Wal-Mart and McDonalds. Half of people employed by the NHS are professionally qualified clinical staff. [2]

Prescriptions on the NHS used to be free

The current charge for a single prescription in England is £8.60; under 16s, over 60s and inpatients are exempt from paying, but when the NHS was first created prescriptions were completely free[3] to everybody. A growing drugs bill in 1952 meant that a charge of 1 shilling per prescription form was put in place. 

This increased to 2 shillings per item in 1959 and in 1965 the charge was abolished for three years until 1968, when a charge was brought in once again. Since then, prices have continued to rise and fall to bring us where we are today. 

The NHS budget started at £437 million

When the NHS launched 70 years ago it had a much smaller budget than today. It started off with a budget of £437 million [4], the equivalent of approximately £15 billion in today’s value. Today’s budget for the Department of Health lies at over £124.7 billion.

The World Stage

The London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, a £27 million four-hour spectacular, featured a tribute to the NHS and all performers in the act came from the NHS and local schools. Creator Danny Boyle said “it’s something that we are really proud of. It celebrates something unique about this country.” [5]