Reviews Theatre

NHS: The Musical!

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1279
  1. Phyllida Brown, freelance journalist (
  1. Exeter

    Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh miner's son who created Britain's NHS in 1948, might have been surprised to find himself starring in a musical satire. But then he would have been surprised about the way things have turned out for the NHS.

    Bevan championed the then-radical idea of universal health care, free at the point of use. He believed that this initiative would improve the nation's health so rapidly that eventually the costs of the service would fall. Today, after 58 years, healthcare costs are spiralling, the score card on the nation's health is mixed, and the NHS is a much-kicked political football whose seams sometimes appear to be bursting. Can Bevan's ideal survive?

    This is the central question behind NHS: The Musical! Nick Stimson and Jimmy Jewell have pulled off the unlikely feat of making the United Kingdom's largest employer the subject of a genuinely entertaining evening. Their sometimes biting satire portrays the key NHS stakeholders—patients, politicians, clinicians, administrators, and industry—each fighting for their own agenda. Of course, there are jokes about Viagra, jokes about Herceptin, and jokes about doctors …

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