Reflecting on 75 years of the NHS

This content relates to the following topics:

2023 marks 75 years since the birth of the NHS, the National Assistance Act that laid the foundations of the current social care system, and the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks. During this anniversary period, we’ll be reflecting on how far the NHS has come, the challenges it faces today and what the future holds for the health service.  

Reflecting on 75 years

The National Health Service began on the 5 July 1948, born out of the recommendations of the Beveridge report of 1942. In 1945, the newly formed Labour government tasked Aneurin Bevan with creating a universal health system. After years of planning, campaigning and patching together varied regional health care provisions, Bevan’s model was put into action. Being free at the point of use, available to all and financed by taxation, the NHS was the first of its kind.

The NHS has evolved over the years as it strives to meet the needs of a growing population with ever-changing needs. And it has faced many challenges. Now – in the aftermath of a global pandemic, and in the midst of economic and workforce crisis – these challenges have, arguably, never been greater.

Explore more of the history, statistics and future plans around the NHS using the articles, online resources and publications featured on this page.

Report: How does the NHS compare to the health care systems of other countries?

Report: How does the NHS compare to the health care systems of other countries?

Our new report found that the NHS is neither a leader nor a laggard when compared to 18 similar countries. Read the report to hear more about the lessons we can hear from other health care systems. 

The NHS at 75: a letter to party leaders,

An open letter to party leaders

We've joined forces with The Health Foundation and Nuffield Trust in a letter to party leaders asking for the upcoming general election to be a breaking point, by ending years of short termism in NHS policy-making.  

The NHS then and now: a view from The King’s Fund’s archive

Blog: The NHS then and now

Danielle Jeffries, one of our analysts, has delved into The King's Fund archives to see how the NHS has tackled challenging times in the past. Will history hold solutions to the problems faced today?

75 years of the NHS

Podcast: How does it compare to international health systems?

Listen to Jo Vigor chat with with fellow colleagues from The King’s Fund, Danielle Jefferies and Siva Anandaciva about the work they've done looking at international comparisons of the NHS.

Cogs with graphics of people and service users

Free online course: The NHS explained

This free four-week course will help you understand the what makes up the health care system in England.