#NHS70: Together we can achieve our goals
On 5th July 1948, the National Health Service was launched by the then Health Secretary, Aneurin Bevan. Today, as the NHS turns 70, our CEO Mark Winstanley reflects on the fantastic work being done and how we must ensure the NHS remains a cornerstone for the very people affected by mental illness.
Every day, our work brings us into contact with the NHS. Every day, our supporters are aided by the tireless efforts of those on the frontline. It is only fitting then that we show our appreciation for their hard work on the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Milestones as big as this, whether they be personal or professional, offer us a chance for reflection. Where have we been? What steps will we take to ensure that the next 70 years are even more successful? This is a question particularly pertinent to mental healthcare, which has seen slow but steady improvement in the last seven decades. In that time, our understanding of mental health has changed significantly. We have recognised that the care needs of those requiring treatment have needed to change, but we’ve also begun to appreciate that care settings have need to change too. As our understanding continues to develop, Rethink will continue to play a role in the future of the NHS.
We have over 200 different services throughout the country, and most of those services work together with the NHS in some shape or form.
At our Camden advocacy service for older people, for example, our staff work closely with clinicians, acting as a go-between for both doctor and patient. Living with a mental illness can mean that it’s difficult to have your voice heard, especially if it’s your first time in a clinical setting. All sides want what’s best for the patient, and our advocates do an excellent job listening to the thoughts and worries of patients to ensure that, as far as possible, their wishes are respected. We have advocacy services like this one throughout the country that are helping health professionals to provide even better care.
Or take our supported housing services in places like Salisbury and Scarborough. Every day they work with mental health teams to support service users to become more independent, helping them to gain the necessary living skills to lead full and healthy lives. These services provide a bedrock for vulnerable people, who are often at risk of exploitation and abuse, and provides them with a safe place to call home. They also keep people well; minimising calls on NHS resources in a time when there aren’t the resources to spare.
The common theme throughout all of this is funding. Without it we would not be able to provide the care that we do. Funding permeates every conversation we have with the NHS.”
How many people can we help at Service X? Can we find a way to support people more effectively at Service Y? We talk about funding until we’re blue in the face. But there’s an important reason for this. Proper funding allows frontline staff, both on the NHS and within our own services, to provide effective and long-lasting care that genuinely changes lives. For us to continue helping each other, that necessary funding must be made available.
I have no doubt that with hard work, we can achieve our goals. As vital as it is to look ahead, it’s also important to appreciate where we are now. Every year NHS staff help thousands of our supporters when they need it most. I am immensely proud to work alongside them, so happy 70th birthday from your friends at Rethink Mental Illness!