The enduring success of the NHS is down to the “brilliance” of staff, according to chief executive Simon Stevens who conveyed a “heartfelt thank you” on the day the health service turned 70.
In a specially recorded message to the NHS workforce on the service’s 70th birthday today, he paid tribute to the achievements of 1.5 million nurses, doctors, ambulance staff, therapists, porters, caterers, volunteers and countless others who work behind the scenes.
“The reason why the health service does so well is frankly due to the brilliance of the staff”
In the message, filmed in an ambulance control room, he said the anniversary was a time for celebration.
“We’ve seen amazing medical advances, whether it’s organ transplantations or new cures for cancer or vaccines,” he said. “But the reason why the health service does so well is frankly due to the brilliance of the staff.”
Mr Stevens said it was down to staff that the nation had “recommitted to the idea of a health service – there when you need us, based on how sick you are, not whether you can afford us”.
As the entire nation celebrated the birthday of its favourite institution, he said nurses, midwives and others would continue caring for patients and families as they do “day in day out”.
His words will resonate around the country as scores of landmark buildings – including the Eden Project in Devon, Everton Football Club and the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye – are lit in the NHS’s trademark blue.
Thousands of Big 7Tea events will be taking place across England to thank staff and raise awareness of NHS charities.
In addition, as previously reported, national celebrations at Westminster Abbey and York Minster will also pay tribute to NHS staff and patients.
Participants in the Westminster Abbey service included Freya Lewis, a survivor of the Manchester terror attack, who has undergone more than 60 hours of surgery and has learned to walk again.
Others taking part include top NHS trauma surgeon Dr Martin Griffiths, who led a team treating victims of the London Bridge terrorist attack.
Singer Linda Nolan, who is being treated for breast cancer, will host a choral concert at York Minster.
She will be joined by 15-year-old Eve Senior, a survivor of the Manchester terror attack, who says her ambition is to become a nurse.
Meanwhile, 87-year-old former nurse cadet and radiographer Ethel Armstrong MBE, who was working in the NHS on its first day on July 5 1948, will be doing something unimaginable 70 years ago – running the @NHS Twitter account.