In line with the majority of other developed countries, the United Kingdom (UK) has offered its citizens a universal health care system that is free at the point of service. Funded primarily by taxation, the system is popular and efficient. However, along with most other health care systems around the world, it faces a series of challenges if it is to maintain viability, in the twenty-first century. These issues include; long waiting times, an aging population, funding challenges and the increasing cost of technology.
History of Health Care in the UK
The UK is a sovereign country of almost 61,000,000 people comprising the nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A highly evolved democratic country that utilizes several socialized practices, including free and universal health care for all citizens, delivered by the government, and paid for taxes. Prior to the implementation of the National Health System (NHS) in 1948, health care in the UK was provided by a mixture of private, public and smaller community hospitals with sickness a primary cause of pauperism.
The National Health Service
With a budget of £40 billion, the stated mission of the NHS is “to improve Britons’ mental and physical health through health prevention and promotion and diagnosis and treatment” (Johnson & Stoskopf, 2008, p. 107). Currently the largest employer in the UK, employing approximately 1.3 million employees, the NHS provides a wide range of services including hospital, family, community and social-based services, long-term illnesses and disabilities. As of 2007, these services are delivered from approximately 3,000 surgeries, 750 NHS hospitals, 190 private hospitals and 175,000 nursing and care homes.
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...nt and initiatives launched to resolve them. Despite these problems, the NHS remains extremely popular with citizens of the UK who view the right to receive free medical treatment as an extremely important aspect of citizenship.
Blendon, R. (2002). Inequities in health care: A five-country survey. Health Affairs, 21(3).
Department of Health: The National Programme for IT in the NHS. (2006). Retrieved from
Johnson, J. & Stoskopf, C. (2008). Comparative health systems: Global perspectives for the 21st century. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Light, D. W. (2003). Universal health care: Lessons from the British experience. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447686/.
Siva, N. (2009). New horizons for mental health in the UK. The Lancet, 374(9697).
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