27 June 2018, The Tablet

A bittersweet birthday: the NHS at 70

The NHS at 70

A bittersweet birthday: the NHS at 70

Free health care helped young families in areas such as Bootle near Liverpool whose lives were blighted by poverty and deprivation


“The Catholic Church is here,” I overheard one senior NHS official whisper to another as they approached the Catholics in Healthcare stall at a NHS Confederation Conference in Manchester a few years ago. “That’s worrying.”

They hadn’t reckoned on the charm of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who happened to be standing beside me on the stall. “We were here first, of course,” the cardinal explained, before he regaled them with the often neglected story of the Church’s involvement for centuries in the care of the sick in Britain. Then he handed the two newly enlightened administrators a prayer card each before, for good measure, blessing them.

This July, the National Health Service celebrates 70 years of offering care free at the point of access, funded by taxation.

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