An introduction to the NHS
Brought to you by NHS Careers.
For the NHS a typical day includes:
- Over 835,000 people visiting their GP practice or practice nurse
- Almost 50,000 people visiting accident and emergency departments
- 49,000 outpatient consultations
- 94,000 people admitted to hospital as an emergency admission
- 36,000 people in hospital for planned treatment
- 28,000 sight tests being carried out
- 18,000 calls to NHS Direct
The structure of the NHS
Hospitals in the NHS are managed by NHS trusts (sometimes called acute trusts) and are run by a trust board. These trusts make sure that hospitals provide high quality health care, and that they spend their money efficiently. Mental health trusts and ambulance trusts have a similar structure but tend to cover wider areas. There are almost 300 hospital, mental health and ambulance trusts, and 152 primary care trusts in England.
Primary care is provided in your local community via your local GP, NHS walk-in centre, dentist, pharmacist and optician. NHS Direct is also responsible for providing healthcare advice and information 24 hours a day via the internet and over the telephone.
All hospital and mental health trusts are dependent on primary care trusts (PCTs) commissioning services such as elective surgery, outpatient visits and other treatments from them, but PCTs also run community-based hospitals and provide services such as district nursing and health promotion.
PCTs still tend to commission many services from their local hospital. However, under the patient choice initiative, anyone needing elective hospital treatment will be offered a choice of where it is carried out, including independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) run by private companies.
Strategic health authorities (SHAs) cover large areas - typically neighbouring counties or large city areas - and are responsible for overseeing other NHS organisations in their area and leading on issues such as workforce development and capacity.