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Healthcare Glossary

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National Health Service (NHS)

The National Health Service (NHS) is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom.Only the English NHS is officially called the National Health Service, the others being NHS Scotland and NHS Wales. Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland is called the HSC rather than the NHS. Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has grown to become the world’s largest publicly funded health service. The founding ideology to the NHS was that sufficient healthcare should be available to all UK residents, regardless of wealth. In 2011 it was serviced by over 60 million people.  

In 2009, the NHS employed more than 1.7m people. Of those, just under half were clinically qualified, including 120,000 hospital doctors, 40,000 general practitioners (GPs), 400,000 nurses and 25,000 ambulance staff. 

On average, the NHS deals with 1m patients every 36 hours.  Each GP in the nation’s 10,000-plus practices sees an average of 140 patients a week. 

Funding for the NHS comes directly from taxation. The 2008/9 UK budget roughly equated to a contribution of £1,980 for every man, woman and child in the UK. The Department of Health oversees all NHS activities in England.

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National Health Service (NHS)


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