What are the most important factors that influence the National Health Service in Modern Britain - Essay Example

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What are the most important factors that influence the National Health Service in Modern Britain
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Factors Influencing the National Health Service in Modern Britain Details: al Affiliation: Submission:
Factors Influencing the National Health Service in Modern Britain
There is no doubt that the National Health Service (NHS) has been one of the most cherished institutions in modern Britain (Hewitt, 2005). So it is that the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had to contend sometimes back that it is among the greatest achievements the country has had this far (DoH, 2004a). Indeed, the huge political controversy that regularly surrounds NHS during elections underscores its great importance to the electorate (Appleby, et al., 2011; Klein, 2010). The World Health Organization institutional rankings put NHS among the best healthcare systems worldwide (Herring, 2012). This paper analyses the influential factors that have shaped the structural aspects of the National Health Service in modern Britain.
With a divisive background where state owned hospitals, the general practitioners and community as well as the domiciliary healthcare based services functioned as independent statutory entities, a new approach towards a modernized system with regards to the provision of comprehensive and co-ordinated healthcare services was fast needed to replace the old order (Markwell, 2009). The conception of the term “modern” denotes an era (1960s onwards) characterised by the adoption of a holistic frame of reference where traditional strategies were/are critically rethought over to capture the ever expanding consumer interest in a range of complementary healthcare approaches in the wake of a stronger wave of counter-culture (Daunton and Rieger, 2001). With industrialisation at hand, technology and political dynamics have played fundamental roles in directing policy shifts in conformity with a more demanding and ballooning populace.
According to the Guillebaud Report, the changing trends in health issues and illness, the need for harmonious working relationships between the general practitioners and public hospitals towards more efficient preventive mechanisms, and the need for adequate healthcare provision to the growing number of the elderly in their own homes were issues of concern that needed to be addressed if the country was indeed serious in meeting every justifiable healthcare demand of its citizenry (Markwell, 2009). In fact, the impact of the growing numbers of the aging population on the NHS is indeed tremendous; the average public expenditure for retired households has nearly doubled that for non-retired households. The 2007/08 average value of NHS services for retired and non-retired population stood at £5,200 and £2,800 respectively; a clear indication of direct influence on the public budget (Cracknell, 2010).
On another front, technology has been very crucial in the initiation of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programmes, which have not only had considerable impact in terms of knowledge generation but have also inspired policy shifts targeting quality services (Hanney, Buxton, Green, Coulson and Raftery, 2007). Even with the expansive power of technology towards health services, health planning based on capital schemes in the 1960s and the “corporate” managerial approaches adopted in the 1970s seemed to have been working against efficiency prompting major reallocations of financial resources in the beginning of 1980s (DoH, 2006). With a growing dissatisfaction in the provision healthcare services, Patients and the Public at large were to be consulted (DoH, 2003). A number of reforms touching on the managerial aspects have so far been implemented. The greatest impact to this new form of arrangement was the funding process. NHS is centrally funded out of the taxpayers’ purse, making the process a politically driven exercise with a study stream of funds for the execution of new ideas (The NHS in England, 2012). The reorganization of the funding process has enabled the implementation of a universal healthcare system; a system that has ensured that NHS and its ideals remains popular with people (Berridge, 2007).
Another important factor that has been influential in the modernization of the National Health Service is politics. Apart from being controlled by parliament via funding and regular audits, NHS is entity is headed by the secretary of state for health (Berridge, 2007). Its creation was a parliament driven exercise, which continues to dominate the reforms geared towards effective management. The adoption of The NHS Plan 2000, a joint endeavor by the NHS staff and the patients, as an investment reform program that lasted for a decade was one of the political initiatives that reformed the NHS (DoH, 2002). Other recent politically driven reforms include A Strategy for NHS Information Quality Assurance (DoH, 2004b) and the QOF-Quality and Outcomes Framework (DoH, 2004c) all geared towards a common objective of assured quality of care.
The current status of the National Health Service in Britain has been a product of a myriad of factors being brought together to achieve not only the most efficient but the best healthcare amongst the developed world. Courtesy of good political stewardship, Britain has managed to establish an integrative, universal and comprehensive health service which is free at the point of use for the vast majority of its people at far less cost and more efficiency compared to other advanced economies.
Reference List
Appleby, J., Ham, C., Imison, C., Harrison, T., Boyle, S., Ashton, B. and Thompson, J., 2011. Improving Health and Health Care in London – Who will take the lead? London: The King’s Fund.
Berridge,V., 2007. The NHS: what can we learn from history? [Online] The official website of BBC History Magazine. Available at:
(Accessed 6 October 2012).
Cracknell, R., 2010. Key Issues for the New Parliament. [Online] House of Commons Library. Available at:
(Accessed 6 October 2012).
Daunton, M. and Rieger, B., 2001. Meanings of Modernity: Britain in the Age of
Imperialism and World Wars. Oxford: Berg.
Department of Health, 2002. Delivering the NHS Plan: next steps on investment next steps on
Reform. London: Crown.
Department of Health, 2003. Strengthening Accountability: Involving Patients and Public.
London: DoH.
Department of Health, 2004a. The NHS improvement plan: putting people at the heart of public
services. London: Crown.
Department of Health, 2004b. A Strategy for NHS Information Quality Assurance. London:
Department of Health, 2004c. OOF-Qualitv and Outcomes Framework. London: HMSO.
Department of Health, 2006. Financial Turnaround in the NHS: A Report from Richard
Douglass, Finance Director to the Secretary of State. London: HMSO.
Hanney, S., Buxton, M., Green, C., Coulson, D. and Raftery, J., 2007. An assessment of the impact of the NHS Health Technology Assessment Programme. Health Technology Assessment, 11(53), pp.1-200.
Herring, J., 2012. Medical Law and Ethics. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hewitt P., 2005. Labour’s values and the modern NHS. Fabian Society Lecture. [Online]
Available at: [Accessed 2 October 2012].
Klein, R., 2010. The New Politics of the NHS: From creation to reinvention. Oxford: Radcliffe Publishing.
Markwell, S., 2009. Health Service Development and Planning. [Online] HealthKnowledge. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 October 2012].
The NHS in England, 2012. The NHS: About the NHS. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 6 October 2012]. Read More
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