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National Health Service (NHS)



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The important element of the health and social welfare system in the UK is the British Healthcare System. The British healthcare system is known as the National Health Service (NHS), which is a publicly funded health care system. The NHS was established in 1946 and was officially recognized in 1948. This system offers care in the areas of general practice, emergency, long-term care, and dentistry. A very important characteristic of the NHS is that it employs the physicians and nurses and it possesses most of the hospitals and clinics available.

Services provided by the NHS comprehend hospitals, family doctors, specialists, dentists, chemists, opticians and the ambulance service. Not all services offered by the NHS are free of charge. The NHS also pays directly for the expenses of medical assistance; the patients pay (subsidized) fixed costs for prescriptions, sight tests, NHS glasses and dental treatment. Hospital treatment, the ambulance service and medical consultations continue free. In general the NHS receives a yearly budget of 80 billion and employs over 1 million people, for this reason the NHS occupies a place among the top 5 largest employers of the world.

The UK's National Health Service was the first state organization in the world to provide free universal healthcare. Today, this organization has some serious structural problems, the waiting lists in hospital even for urgent treatments have grown and the standard of treatment in some hospitals is failing. Many Britons in the higher income bracket acquire a private health insurance and there are a growing number of employers providing private cover as regular to their employees.

The central groups that the NHS offers free or subsidized medical treatment to are:

  • Those with the right of abode in Britain and who are currently resident in Britain (this excludes British citizens who are resident abroad).
  • Anyone who has been resident in the UK for the previous year.
  • EU Nationals.
  • Students (on courses longer than 6 months).
  • Anyone with a British work permit.
The 3 main categories of NHS in the UK:

Primary Care
Primary care comprehends services rendered by family doctors, dentists, opticians, pharmacists, midwives, speech therapists, physiotherapists, chiropodists, dieticians, and counselors. Diagnosis is the first step of primary care after that, the treatment, and preventative health accounts for 90% of NHS services. Preventative health is an important element of primary care with emphasis on preventing heart disease, stroke, managing asthma, and diabetes. Often family doctors and nurses work together to form a Primary Care Group in a community.

Secondary Care
Secondary care possesses more advanced services such as elderly care, maternity care, pathology, and radiology. The emergency services including emergency rooms and ambulance services also are administered by the Secondary care.

Tertiary Care
Tertiary Care provides specialized areas such as organ transplants, and rare cancer treatment. Tertiary care services comprehend a broad geographical area and also include world famous hospitals and research facilities.


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