John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses individual responsibility and accountability in NHS patient safety culture as the NHS turns 75
T he NHS turned 75 years old on 5 July 2023 and there was a lot to celebrate. The NHS, rightly, is a greatly prized institution. Its 75th birthday caused me to reflect on its essential uniqueness within the context of patient safety – whether this uniqueness has had positive or negative impacts on efforts to develop a patient safety culture. On reflection, however, this is probably an impossible question to answer. There are so many factors and variables to consider and the question may be too general. In determining what is meant by ‘uniqueness’, this can be taken from facts about the NHS and its structure. We have a universal healthcare system, free for all.
‘Treating over a million people a day in England, the NHS touches all of our lives. When it was founded in 1948, the NHS was the first universal health system to be available to all, free at the point of delivery. Today, nine in 10 people agree that healthcare should be free of charge, more than four in five agree that care should be available to everyone, and that the NHS makes them most proud to be British.’
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