Monday, 22 April 2013

Your Health in London-The National Health Service or NHS in London and the UK

The National Health Service (NHS) is the overall designation of any of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom, comprising NHS Scotland, NHS Welsh, NHS Northern Ireland and NHS England. Despite operating as autonomous yet collaborative entities, these four health systems cannot actually be set apart from one another in exclusive terms.

Since its inception in 1948, the NHS has grown to become the world’s largest publicly funded health service. It is also one of the most efficient, most egalitarian and most comprehensive.
The NHS was born out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth, a principle that remains at its core. With the exception of some charges, such as prescription and optical and dental services, the NHS remains free at the point of use for anyone who is resident in the UK. That is currently more than 63.2million people. It covers everything from antenatal screening and routine treatments for long-term conditions, to transplants, emergency treatment, and end-of-life care.

Responsibility for healthcare in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales is devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government respectively.

Treatment of persons not resident in the United Kingdom is subject to mostly uniform arrangements made by or delegated to the UK Department of Health, rather than any individual health service. Foreign nationals always receive treatment free at the time of use of emergencies.
Foreign nationals also receive free treatment if they have been legally resident in the UK for 12 months, have recently arrived to take up permanent residence, are claiming asylum or have other legal resident status. Citizens of the European Economic Area nations, as well as those from countries with which the UK has a reciprocal arrangement, are also entitled to free treatment by using the European Health Insurance Card. Foreign nationals may be subject to an interview to establish their nationality and residence status, which must be resolved before non-emergency treatment can commence. Patients who do not qualify for free treatment are asked to pay in advance, or to sign a written undertaking to pay.

The NHS employs more than 1.7m people. The NHS in England is the biggest part of the system by far, catering to a population of 53m and employing more than 1.35m people. The NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland employs 153,427; 84,817 and 78,000 people respectively. The NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.

Funding for the NHS comes directly from taxation and is granted to the Department of Health by Parliament. When the NHS was launched in 1948, it had a budget of £437 million (roughly £9 billion at today’s value). For 2012/13, it was around £108.9 billion. 
In 2010, the Common Wealth Fund declared that in comparison with the healthcare systems of six other countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA), the NHS was the second most impressive overall. The NHS was rated as the best system in terms of efficiency, effective care and cost-related problems. It was also ranked second for patient equality and safety.

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