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Looking forward to the next 70 years: from a National Ill-Health Service to a National Health System

  • David J. Hunter (a1)


Amidst the NHS’s (National Health Service) success lies its major weakness, although one that Klein overlooks in his reflections on the NHS as it approaches 70. The focus on, and investment in, curing ill-health has been at the expense of attending to the public’s overall health and well-being. This preoccupation poses a greater threat to the NHS’s future than privatisation. Despite the weakness having been diagnosed decades ago, redressing the imbalance has proved stubbornly hard to achieve. Rhetoric has not been translated into reality. Yet, we may be on the cusp of a tipping point where in order to ensure a sustainable NHS, and one that is capable of meeting the 21st century challenges facing it, there is a renewed and overdue interest in promoting health and well-being in communities. But for this to succeed, the NHS will need to embrace its bete noire, local government.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence to: David J. Hunter, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK. Email:


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