Throughout her life the NHS has had to adapt. In her early days she supported young people plighted by acute illness and infections not yet understood, she was also there to care and mend the broken bones of those suffering from life’s accidents. Over time she has had to maintain these skills but also had to undergo intensive continuing professional development, retraining and learning on the job as she has had to tailor her skills to support the needs of a rapidly expanding ageing population.
At the same time she has had to adapt to the exponential technology developments that have become so pervasive. While initially slow to want to change her ways, she is now learning fast and engaging with technology in a way that is at the forefront of most global health systems. Whether it be pioneering gene therapy, whole system roll-out of genomics to leading a data driven health system and, most recently, understanding the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in health.
She is a true 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 either herself, her staff, family or friends. She is not yet financially independent and while new dividend payments help, she has become bitterly frustrated by the way in which she is is constantly pulled in opposite directions, by different political fractions arguing how she should spend her money and time. If only she could be a little more independent like her friend the Bank of England.
What makes it more difficult is that she now has more dependents than ever before, relying on her to support them, whether it be the way she cares for those with mental health issues, long-term conditions or the way she acts as a safety net for those who struggle to manage their own 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 use all of the information and knowledge she has collected to impact the lives of generations to come. Enabling her to fulfil her vision of providing healthcare, 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 70 candles.
I would like to think she is stood at a dinner table with all her friends family and staff around her thinking about how the next 70 years will unfold. Contemplating how she may one day drift into the cloud using data and artificial intelligence to help her transcend her physical body, allowing her to continue to care with passion for millions.
Happy Birthday NHS.
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