NHS at 70

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Never Enough

The NHS has never had enough money. How have health ministers dealt with it?
Like a much loved elderly relative, the National Health Service has endured more examinations and diagnoses than any other public institution. 

When Bevan first launched it, he knew that there would never be enough money to meet the overwhelming need, and successive health ministers have used a variety of tactics to try to manage its chronic health problems. 

Sally Sheard looks back at this intensely political organisation and asks Jeremy Hunt, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and longest serving, why health ministers rarely learn from history.

Producer: Beth Eastwood.

'I'm no quitter': The PM's year so far

With Parliament heading for recess next week, we take a look at the Prime Minister's year
With Parliament heading for recess on Tuesday, the Westminster Hour has been looking back at some of the biggest moments for the Prime Minister so far in 2018.

NHS at 70: The South West's tiny bundles of hope

Jenny Walrond

Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

This summer, as the NHS turns 70, BBC Spotlight is looking at how healthcare has changed here in the South West.

One in every 13 babies in the UK are born preterm - that's before 37 weeks gestation - and their chances of surviving have increased dramatically in the last 70 years.

baby
BBC

Neonatal care for the most pre-term babies from Devon and Cornwall is now centralised at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Plymouth.

Treatments and technology have improved with steroids given in the womb, ventilators, more sophisticated monitoring and incubators, and surfactants to help babies' lungs work.

couple with baby
BBC

But attitudes have also changed.

Parents are now much more involved with their own child and some, like Donna Wade, go on to support other new mums and dads.

They seem very open to wanting to talk to you, engaging and just basically hearing what you've gone through. It's also about being able to talk to them about what's going on outside the hospital and just giving a bit of normality to them as well."

Donna WadeParent Peer Support Worker

And while there is sometimes a long-term bond formed with the unit, babies tend to stay here for a shorter time.

They are discharged earlier and supported at home so parents and siblings can enjoy the normality of family life outside hospital.

NHS at 70: A fighting chance for pre-term babies

Jenny Walrond

Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

This summer, as the NHS turns 70, BBC Spotlight is looking at how healthcare has changed here in the South West.

One in every 13 babies in the UK are born preterm - that's before 37 weeks gestation - and their chances of surviving have increased dramatically in the last 70 years.

baby
BBC

Baby Connor was born 12 weeks early.

When the NHS was formed, children born much earlier didn't survive - records from Plymouth in 1946 show a baby weighing 2lb 3oz and another born at about 27 weeks gestation.

These days, babies born at 23 or 24 weeks and weighing around 1lb can survive, but sometimes with long-term health problems.

doctor
BBC

That's a very difficult thing for the baby and for the family concerned and that's one of the costs of the care that we provide. We have a lot of technology that we can use and we have a lot of skills at our hands and with the nursing care babies come through. But we know that there is a cost to some of those babies."

Dr John MadarConsultant Neonatologist, University Hospitals Plymouth

NHS at 70: Looking back at nursing seven decades ago

Lorna Finlay recalls training as a nurse two years after the creation of the health service in 1948

In 1950, two years after the creation of the health service in Northern Ireland, Lorna Finlay began training as a nurse.

Now aged 90, she recalls what it was like, and how it has changed in the past seven decades.

NHS at 70: 'You have to forget about the last job or you'd have nightmares'

Former paramedic Ron Saddington remembers rescuing a paralysed woman from a car

Ron Saddington reversing a mobile oxygen unit into an ambulance
Ron Saddington
Ron Saddington (right) checking a mobile oxygen unit and taking it into a Austin Princess ambulance in 1975.

“I was an ambulanceman in Suffolk in the 1970s and late one night we got a call to Leavenheath where a car had taken a corner sharply and gone sideways into a ditch.

“When we got there the driver was fine but he told me his 18-year-old girlfriend was still in the car.

“My colleague helped me open the car door and get in.

“I was holding the girl’s hand to reassure her but I noticed she couldn’t feel that I was doing this and after checking, I realised that she was paralysed.

“The police and the fire service cut the roof back on the car with a saw and I was talking to her to reassure her because of the noise and the sparks flying.

“We got her out of the car on a carry sheet and on to a stretcher which keeps the body in a fixed position.

“Any movement could have killed her because her spinal cord was broken.

“We took her to Colchester Hospital and I’d love to know what happened to her.

“As an ambulance driver you have to forget about the last job in order to be able to move on to the next, otherwise you’d have nightmares."

Nurse!

From cleaning bedpans to treating broken bones: how nursing in the NHS has changed.
For many, the typical image of the British nurse includes their earthy sense of humour and resilience. They've been trained to conform to hospital rules and hierarchies, yet always find ways to cope with the pressures of this demanding career. But in recent years, this image has been shadowed by darker tales of nurses' lack of compassion. Sally Sheard explores the changing roles of nurses in the NHS: now they are all graduates and are likely to be found diagnosing broken bones in an A and E department leaving the caring side of the job to healthcare assistants.

NHS at 70: ‘My engagement ring fitted round his hand’

Katie Jones said it was an emotional rollercoaster when her son was born 13 weeks early

Jon and Katie Jones with their son Ray when her was born, and Ray on a swing at 13 months-old
Katie Jones
Jon and Katie Jones with their son Ray when her was born, and Ray at 13 months-old.

“Ray was born in May 2017 at 27 weeks and weighed just 900g (31oz).

“I never went into labour really. I went for a scan at the University Hospital of Wales only to be told I was staying in for ‘bed rest’.

“Half an hour later I was sent to a sent to a delivery suite for a caesarean section.

“Ray was born at 21:15 (BST) but I didn’t get to see him until 11:00 the following morning.

“He was having trouble breathing. His lungs were so small they were sticking together so he was put on a ventilator. He was also jaundiced and had amongst other things chronic lung disease.

“The experience was an emotional rollercoaster for me because I had no control over what was happening to my son.

“My husband went to check on him while he was hooked up to a ventilator and a doctor brought me a photograph of him with his weight on it, that’s the only connection I had with him a the tiem when he was born.

“Five days later I was discharged but the feeling of leaving hospital and not being able to take your vulnerable little one with you is beyond words.

“My first cuddle with Ray wasn’t until he was a week old.

“After 10 days the staff on the neonatal unit got me involved doing things.

“But it’s scary changing a nappy when your little baby is hooked up to so many wires. He was so small and I didn’t want to hurt him.

“My engagement ring and wedding band fitted round his hand.

“The staff were always a shoulder to cry on no matter how busy they were.

“Ray is doing much better now.”