The NHS was born some 70 years ago in the aftermath of the Second World War and the appalling depression of the 1930s. It has been described as the world’s greatest humanitarian movement, providing healthcare to everyone regardless of their ability to pay, solely on their basis of need.
Over that time the NHS has become quintessentially British, a part of our way of life, the institutional embodiment of “fair play” and an essential part of the glue that holds our society together. Its fundamental purpose is the same today as it was then and over time it has delivered world-class healthcare. For most of its existence it has been the envy of the world.
However, the challenges facing the NHS today are very different from those it faced 70 years ago. There are three factors in particular.
First, the population is much older with many people suffering from multiple long- term conditions. Too many of these people spend too much of their time in hospital, particularly towards the end of their lives, when they can be better cared for at home or in the community. We need to change radically the way we deliver social care and end-of-life care.
We must move urgently towards a more integrated care system and end the historic divide between health and social care.
Second, mental health. For far too long mental health has been the Cinderella of the health service. It is at last emerging from the Dark Ages. It is shocking that it has taken so long. For most of the last 70 years it has been stigmatised and hidden behind a veil of indifference. At last we are recognising not just its prevalence but also the depth of the misery it causes: not just to individual sufferers but also to their families. The duality of physical and mental health needs to be addressed and the resources that go into conditions like heart disease and cancer should be matched by mental health. There is a long way to go.
Finally, technology. We are on the cusp of a breakthrough in the way we diagnose and treat many illnesses that have previously been regarded as incurable. The convergence of data science with medical science will be transformational. At UCLH, we have a massive opportunity to be the world leader in this field, resulting
in much earlier diagnosis and more personalised medicine. Genomics and artificial intelligence, separately and together, offer to healthcare what the internet offers to communications.
There is no doubt in my mind that over time health and social care will consume a growing proportion of government spending. We desperately need a political consensus around the right level of spending. The NHS cannot run properly in fits and starts. It needs a long-term settlement. If we can achieve that consensus, the future of the NHS and the care system will be secure for another 70 years.
Lord Prior of Brampton, Chairman, UCLH
ENCAPSULATING HEALTHCARE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
A time capsule capturing the essence of the NHS in its 70th year has been buried in our new Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals building.
Patients Joe Palmer, 14, who has hypodontia and is missing 10 adult teeth, and Jeanann Doyle, who had a cochlear implant, placed mementoes of their care in the capsule.
Also preserved are dental moulds, penicillin and X-ray scans. Airtight and watertight, it is designed to stand the test of time and should not be dug up until 2088.
Joe, who will be 84 then, said: “Without the help of the Eastman Dental Hospital, I wouldn’t be able to smile or eat properly and I’d have no confidence. My life would be very difficult.”
Jeanann, 30, heard raindrops land on her umbrella for the first time in 25 years after a cochlear implant allowed her to hear clearly again.
She said: “I am so proud and blessed to have the hospital team around me. My life has changed so much for the better. It is like I have been born again with new ears.”
The new facility, which is due to open next year, brings together the services provided at the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital (RNTNEH) and Eastman Dental Hospital (EDH) in Gray’s Inn Road.
The Huntley Street building is on the site of the old Royal Ear Hospital, where cochlear implants were developed 35 years ago. Since then almost 1,500 adults and children’s lives have been transformed by the RNTNEH teams.
UCLH chairman Lord Prior said: “With the NHS turning 70 this year, we are celebrating all of the fantastic care and treatment these two hospitals have innovated over the decades.
“As we look forward, I am confident this new facility will provide a wonderful new home fit for 21st century healthcare, where further developments and innovations will continue to improve patient care.”
A QUEST TO CURE BRAIN CANCER
The treatment of brain cancer hasn’t changed for more than a decade. Could a trial at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery break this stalemate?
The most exciting and important trial for brain cancer patients in the last 15 years is about to begin at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, part of UCLH.
Patients with glioblastoma, one of the most common brain tumours, will be given a drug that has transformed the lives of some people with skin cancer.
Chief investigator Paul Mulholland, said: “There are around 2,200 new cases of glioblastoma each year in England alone.
“Following surgery and radiotherapy, there is just one drug licensed for treatment. Patients who are fit enough to receive this treatment survive just 14 months, on average, after diagnosis."
If the drug we are trialling works, it will be a vital step in changing brain tumour treatment for the better.
The drug due to be trialled, ipilimumab, is an immunotherapy – a treatment that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer.
Immunotherapies tend to be expensive, can produce severe side-effects and do not work for everyone. But when they do work, the results are dramatic.
For instance, someone with melanoma skin cancer is twice as likely to live for five years if they are given ipilimumab.
Skin and brain tumours are surprisingly similar at the genetic level, and ipilimumab has already been shown to shrink melanoma tumours that have spread to the brain.
With this in mind, Dr Mulholland is keen to see if the drug can help patients with glioblastoma.
Around 120 people will take part in the trial, which is being funded by drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb and The National Brain Appeal and will take place at up to seven British hospitals, led by UCLH.
All patients will have the conventional treatment of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy but 80 will also be given ipilimumab.
Dr Mulholland, a medical oncologist, said: “Ipilimumab has transformed the lives of some people with skin cancer and may even have cured them.
There haven’t been any new drugs for brain cancer for far too long. Even a small increase in survival would be a great success.
Molly Lane Fox was a beautiful, fun-loving four-year- old when she was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Although radiotherapy bought some precious and happy time with her family, tragically Molly died just after her fifth birthday.
Her parents felt passionately that nobody should have to go through what their daughter endured and, with The National Brain Appeal, set up Molly’s Fund in her memory.
This raised £1 million towards Britain’s first dedicated brain tumour ward, which opened at the NHNN in 2011. Recently another £500,000 was raised, allowing the ward, which provides rapid assessment and treatment, to more than double in size.
Specialist surgeons, doctors, nurses, therapists and psychologists provide dedicated care to its 26 patients.
The Molly Lane Fox unit also plays a vital role in brain tumour research.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Keen to find out more about research? Why not come along to our open day?
University College Hospital’s atrium will be transformed into a giant laboratory, with 50 stalls showcasing exciting developments in clinical research.
You can find out about hi-tech developments in imaging, how researchers are finding ways to get the human body to fight cancer for itself and how surgeons can now operate on babies in the womb to treat rare diseases.
You will also have a chance to take part in competitions and games, such as finding out if you have the steady hand of a surgeon, go on tours and listen to talks.
- Come and celebrate research with us from 2.30-5.30pm on Thursday 5 July in University College Hospital atrium!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NHS!
As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, we’d like to celebrate the great work our hospitals do every day of every year. Here, our archivist Annie Lindsay takes us on a fascinating photographic tour of UCLH’s hospitals, past and present.
Please click on the images to enlarge them.
A DAY IN MY LIFE
Bruce Paton, Specialist physiotherapist at the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health, tells us why physiotherapy has proved to be the perfect career.
My day starts at…
5.45am. I read the newspaper and research articles over coffee and a croissant and listen to music and catch up on emails on the train to work.
My job involves…
Might have a clinic with our orthopaedic surgeons in the morning. We order scans, help patients decide if they need an operation, follow them up after their surgery and ensure they are getting the best possible rehab. Some patients, particularly athletes, are too active and you really have to hold them back. Then you get patients who have never done much exercise or been in a gym before and we help them learn to exercise and get stronger.
After lunch, I might have a physio clinic. It’s much better to get patients to exercise here than send them home with a list of exercises and it’s quite amazing seeing how the body can change. We can take almost anybody and find something that will make them fitter and stronger.
How I become a physio…
I actually wanted to do medicine but places were limited in Australia, where I studied, so I started a science degree. I then switched to physiotherapy and settled in London more than 20 years ago. I’ve completed a PhD, worked at the Olympics and Paralympics and helped set up the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health – a concrete legacy of the 2012 Games. I’m glad now that I didn’t study medicine but found something that was more right for me.
The best thing about my job is…
I work with my mind, I work with my hands, I work with people and it’s never boring. It’s a fantastic job.
The worst thing is…
That there aren’t enough hours in the day!
I run six miles home two or three nights a week. I also like hillwalking, skiing, cycling and swimming and do triathlons. And I am learning how to make bread with my eight-year-old daughter, which is great fun.
INSTITUTE OF SPORT, EXERCISE & HEALTH: WHAT’S THE SCORE?
- Celebrating its fifth birthday this year, the ISEH is a lasting legacy of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- From world-class athletes to “weekend warriors”, the state-of-the-art facilities offer the same level of care.
- A partnership between UCLH, HCA Healthcare UK, UCL, the English Institute of Sport and the British Olympic Association, it treats NHS and private patients under the same roof.
- Has consulting and treatment rooms, MRI, ultrasound and X-ray machines and a physiotherapy gym.
- Is involved in research aimed at increasing exercise in the community, reducing illness due to inactivity and helping elite athletes go for gold.
Information at our fingertips
We are designing a system that will bring all the information about a patient’s care together in a single electronic health record. This means that anyone in your care team will have access to the latest information in one place.
At the moment, information is kept in your paper notes and a number of systems around our hospitals. Having it all together will help us improve your care.
Your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or anyone in your care team will be able to see your care history and the most recent information you’ve shared with us.
This means that rather than asking you the same information over and over again, we will simply need to check that it is still right. It will also help us to reduce the time we spend on admin and focus on the care we deliver.
Getting you to see the right people, sooner
As part of our new electronic health record system due in April 2019, we plan to also offer patients access to an online portal via their computer, smartphone or tablet.
This app will allow patients to access their data safely and securely, to help manage and improve their conditions and communicate with their care team.
Dr Damon Kamming, a consultant anaesthetist who is helping design the new system, said: “Being both a patient and a doctor here, I have experienced care from both sides.
“The patient portal will help patients manage and improve their condition, improve communication with healthcare teams and make it easier for staff to deliver care.”
Over the next year we will be working with our patients and clinicians to establish exactly what information and functions should be included in the portal.
But it doesn’t stop there. A single and secure electronic health record means we can build up a picture of different conditions, their causes, treatments and
results over time. It means we can use this information to find new treatments and improve care now and in the future.
Patients will need to give consent for their data to be used in this way. All information will be de-identified and patients can opt out at any time.
If you are interested in getting involved in shaping our future, please contact the Patient and Public Involvement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are working with Epic, a market leader in developing and implementing integrated health record technology, to design and build our new system. Atos, our digital transformation partner, will be upgrading the IT infrastructure staff will use when the new system is switched on in April 2019.
Patricia with Nick Gilbert, head of charitable giving, UCLH, and Philip Brading, chief executive, UCLH Charity
Patricia Fraser’s husband Graham was a consultant otolaryngologist at UCLH from 1971 until his death in 1994 aged 57.
“The Graham Fraser Foundation is delighted to contribute to the costs of building and equipment for the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals. A designated area may be named after him, which would be very special – seven members from five generations of my family having trained and/or worked at UCLH.”
Zoe with TV doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken at the finish line of the 2016 bike ride
UCLH strategic communications manager Zoe Ward hadn’t owned a bike for almost 20 years before she agreed to take part in a Manchester to London cycle ride.
“The patients and families I meet are an inspiration, I think about them when the training gets tough and it keeps me going.”
Dan with UCLH honorary consultant Muntzer Mughal
Dan Joyce ran the Paris and London marathons within two weeks of each other. “My motivation was simple – if my fiancée Bianca and so many others can go through gruelling cancer treatments, I can run a couple of marathons. Finishing the events is one of the proudest moments of my life.”