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Feature NHS at 70

NHS’s greatest achievement after 70 years: The BMJ shortlist

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 15 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2121
  1. Tom Moberly, UK editor, The BMJ
  1. London, UK
  1. tmoberly{at}

The NHS turns 70 on 5 July 2018, and The BMJ wants your vote on the health service’s biggest success story to date. Tom Moberly reports

Readers suggested a huge range of ideas in response to The BMJ’s call for nominations for the greatest achievement of the NHS—from its foundations in general practice to its record in innovation and research.

Those ideas have been compiled into a shortlist, and voting is now open. To help you decide, we’ve asked some experts to make the case for why each of these deserves to be in the running.

You have until 15 June 2018 to vote, and the winner will be announced on 28 June. Go to to vote.

1. Providing care based on need and free at the point of delivery

Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund: “Providing care free at the point of delivery is the single biggest achievement of the NHS. It has removed the fear of how to pay for care that existed before the establishment of the NHS and ensures that no one is denied care because they lack the means to pay for it.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation: “The NHS was the first health system to offer free care for all, and its founding principles were revolutionary. The most fundamental founding principle—that care would be provided on the basis of need not ability to pay—remains the backbone of the service today.”

2. General practice as the foundation for patient care

Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee: “The past 70 years have seen the health landscape change considerably. One …

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