We are in danger of losing our collective nerve over the future of the NHS. In 1948, in the midst of austerity and post-war national exhaustion, Britain created a comprehensive health service which offered care to those who needed it regardless of their means.
It was a courageous idea whose time had come and it made compelling economic, political and social sense. It still does.
In 2013 our far richer country can and should continue to embrace Aneurin Bevan’s vision. Of course we face very different health challenges to those of 1948. We live longer; there are more people with disabilities and long-term conditions; there are more very old people. More healthcare is delivered to more and more people. It has become eye-wateringly expensive.
These, by the way, are largely the fruits of success: decades of rising prosperity and advances in public health, medicine, surgery, pharmacology and technology. Many millions of people have cause to be thankful.
The NHS, as so vi