Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The NHS at 70
  1. Stephen Powis1,2
  1. 1 Medical Directorate, NHS England, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Nephrology, University College London Medical School, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England, London SE1 6LH, UK; s.powis{at}

Statistics from

Next month, the National Health Service (NHS) will celebrate its 70th birthday and, like all anniversaries, it is a time to look back and to look forward. Much has changed since the 5th July 1948. Medicine has become infinitely more complex, with enormous advances in drugs and technology. We are all living longer, but our health needs have become complex. A health service that was established to manage episodic illness must now shape itself to look after patients with multiple long-term conditions and comorbidities.

As we look forward it seems certain the pace of change will accelerate. Advances in genomics, for example, will require a very different approach to risk management and prevention. Digital technology, such as artificial intelligence, will fundamentally change our interactions with patients and the traditional ways we practice medicine, and new discoveries will increase exponentially; in 1948, it took 50 years for medical knowledge to double, but by 2020, it will take only 73 days.1

What does this mean for clinical leaders? Like the NHS …

View Full Text


  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.