The NHS explained free online course: how the health system in England really works

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Learn about the NHS

The NHS is a unique health care system placed above the Royal Family and the BBC as a source of national pride. But how much do you know about the history of the NHS and how it all works and fits together? What will it look like in the future?

Our course will help you understand the building blocks that make up the health care system in England through videos with experts from The King's Fund, articles and quizzes. You will learn about the intricate parts that contribute towards the running of the fifth largest employer in the world. You will explore the challenges facing the NHS and how we can tackle these to ensure a health and care system that's fit for the future.

'This was a fantastic course...  access to the course was easy, can be done in your own time, interesting, clear and you actually learn something! I will be recommending to my manager for all staff within the team to complete the training. Many thanks for producing this.' - Previous course participant

About the course

When does the course start?

The course opens for enrolment on 31 July 2023 and you can join the course at any time that is convenient for you. Please note that you will have four weeks to complete the course from your enrolment date.

Where will the course be hosted?

We will be running this course on FutureLearn. You'll need to set up a free FutureLearn account to take part.

How long will the course run for?

The course will run for four weeks. Each week will take around two hours to complete.

Does the course cost anything?

No - the course is free. If you would like a certificate of completion, you will need to upgrade and pay a fee to receive a certificate.

Who is this course for?

  • NHS and social care staff in England (including those who work in non-clinical roles) 
  • Anyone considering a career in the NHS in England. This includes A-Level students who are making career decisions or overseas staff who are interested in working in the NHS in England 
  • Patients and the general public. This includes lay members on the boards of NHS organisations or patients who actively participate in the NHS, such as GP/patient groups

What if I have any questions?

Email us at and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Help us spread the word

If you've signed up to the course, why not encourage your colleagues or students to take part too? We've produced a free downloadable poster to help you do just that. 

Download the poster