Today the National Health Service celebrates her 69th birthday. Like many sixty-somethings celebrating birthdays today she will be considering her future and reminiscing on her past.
The NHS can be proud of what she has achieved. In 69 years she has become one of the best recognised, the most highly respected healthcare systems on the planet. The work she has supported and nurtured has reached the farthest corners of the world, from new medications discovered and developed, to the teams from her leading hospitals who have performed vital health and humanitarian efforts in countless low and middle income countries.
Throughout her career the NHS has had to adapt. In her early days she supported young people with acute illnesses and helped those in emergency, over time she has had to retrain and learn evermore skills, tailoring her abilities to support a rapidly expanding ageing population.
At the same time she has had to adapt to the new technologies that have become so pervasive in the past few years. While slow to adapt initially, she is now learning fast and engaging with everything from gene therapy to artificial intelligence. She is a lifelong learner and should be incredibly proud of what she is achieving.
Having worked tirelessly throughout her career there is however no nest egg to spoil herself, her family and loved ones. Our NHS is not independent, constantly pulled by different political fractions arguing how she should spend her money and time.
What makes it worse is that she now has more dependents than ever before relying on her to financially support them – mental health issues and long-term conditions, to the challenges faced by managing care in the community.
But what better time to be alive? Life expectancy is increasing and new exponential developments in technology means that in the future she may one day have the opportunity to download her consciousness allowing her to live forever. Enabling her to fulfil her vision of providing care, free at the point of care to anyone, rich or poor, man or woman, old or young.
So take a minute to think about our NHS, about to blow out her 69th candle. We all want this 69 year-old to survive well past 169. Perhaps data and AI will help her transcend her physical body?
Happy Birthday NHS, may you have many more years to come!