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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Celebrating the 70th Birthday of NHS Scotland

05 July 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of NHS Scotland. This remarkable milestone represents an opportunity to look back and celebrate the positive impact the NHS has had on so many lives, whilst reaffirming our ongoing commitment to its founding principles.

NHS Scotland and the SNP Government is working with a wide range of partners to celebrate the anniversary; from patients and the public to NHS Boards, health and social care, the voluntary sector, professional bodies and trades unions.

Since its creation, NHS Scotland has experienced many important and significant developments, for instance:

  • In its first year, 15 million prescriptions were dispensed in Scotland. Today, the figure is over 103 million, provided free under the SNP Government. Scottish taxpayers have saved an average of £1,143.80 each on prescriptions compared to patients south of the border since the SNP abolished charges in 2011.

  • In 1948 1.2 million people were seen as outpatients. Last year it was 4.25 million.

  • In 1948 NHS Scotland employed 22,062 nurses and midwives. Today, there are a record number; more than 59,000.

  • In 1959 Scotland opened the UK’s first nursing and midwifery studies unit at Edinburgh University. This year saw a record number of acceptances to study nursing and midwifery at Scottish universities.

  • In 1960 the UK’s first kidney transplant was performed in Edinburgh. A record number of Scots received a life-changing organ transplant in 2016/17, with 348 people undergoing surgery.

We should pay tribute to all NHS staff, past and present who have dedicated their working lives to helping others, from catering staff to surgeons and midwives to porters. Looking back on the many treatments and technologies pioneered in Scotland. Health Secretary Shona Robison MSP said:

“Scotland’s NHS has changed significantly in its 70 years and its best qualities have endured. From the care, compassion, and professionalism of our staff, to remaining a public, universal service based on need, striving at all times for the highest possible standards in clinical excellence and patient care,

“The choices, services and outcomes that NHS Scotland provides today would not have been imaginable in 1948, and they keep adapting, developing and changing. Standing still isn’t an option. Through our approach of investment and reform, we will continue to drive forward improvements and innovations.

“Everyone will have their own personal stories of what the NHS has done for them and their family. We must never take it for granted.”

In this anniversary year, it is also important to acknowledge local milestones reached by NHS Ayrshire and Arran. For example, there are now five times as many mental health nurses in Ayrshire than a decade ago and the number of psychologists has risen from 3.2 to 11.6. In addition, 352,534 people in NHS Ayrshire and Arran are now registered with an NHS dentist. 95.8% of the population, the highest percentage ever.

To continue such positive developments, the SNP Government increased direct funding for NHS Ayrshire & Arran by £11.6 million to £694.9 million this year. A further £145.7 million was allocated to deliver transformational change across NHS Scotland, including £10.2 million for new trauma centres and £10 million for the Scottish Cancer Strategy.

The importance of continual investment in research and innovation cannot be underestimated. Services must evolve to meet new patterns of care, increased demand and technological advances.

As part of the 70th celebrations, stories from staff and patients have been collected to track how the institution has evolved in Scotland. For more information and to view these stories, and an interactive timeline showcasing some of the fantastic accomplishments, innovations and breakthroughs that help tell the story so far, please visit:


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