The chairman of the NHS Alliance, the independent primary care organisation, has praised the principles and "vision" of the NHS ahead of its 60th birthday this Saturday (5 July 2008).
But while Dr Michael Dixon praised the values of the NHS – free-at-the-point-of need, fair and equitable tax-funded care – he warned: "Those principles are more and more difficult to maintain. Think of the debate over top-up payments, for instance.
"However, we should not forget that this country founded the NHS just after the second World War, when Britain was on its knees and next to bankrupt," said Dr Dixon.
He added that the NHS was possible due to "a consensus between all political parties and across society as a whole that the NHS was an essential reform. Despite differences of detail, there is a similar consensus today.
"But it was the vision that really counted and made such a huge undertaking possible," Dr Dixon said. "Perhaps now is a time to get back to the vision instead of focusing on the mechanics."
In a press statement, the Alliance wished the NHS a happy birthday and "many happy returns too", saying it hoped for "many more years of an NHS based on the principles and values of its founders."