Celebrating the NHS at 70
5 Jul 2018
Today, the NHS celebrates its 70th birthday. Since its launch on 5 July 1948, the NHS has utilised advances in medical science to deliver a free healthcare service for all.
Congratulations to the NHS on your historical milestone!
Research funded by the MRC has influenced many NHS treatments and services throughout its history. Equally the NHS has been fundamental to discoveries made by our scientists.
Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the MRC, said: “Since the creation of the NHS 70 years ago, the Medical Research Council has been proud to support its mission to provide excellent healthcare to all, free at the point of entry and based on clinical need.
“MRC-funded research underpins many of the world-class treatments and methods of diagnosis used within the NHS today. Our close relationship with the NHS has given, and continues to give, MRC-funded researchers the data, resources and inspiration they need to carry out life-changing research that makes a real difference to clinical practice.”
Our NHS 70 timeline shows a selection of MRC research that has improved treatment and services delivered by the NHS: from setting up a national network of blood banks at the beginning of the World War II to treating a rare liver disease in 2016.
View the accessible version of our timeline.
The MRC’s contribution doesn’t end here – our researchers continue to discover and develop new ways to tackle diseases. Recently MRC scientists developed a safer blood test to diagnose peanut allergy. Unlike current tests, the new mast activation test (MAT) doesn’t run the risk of giving false-positives or causing severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock. Crucially, MAT is five times more cost-efficient than the standard food allergy test therefore has enormous potential to be adapted for other food allergies.
Our researchers are also striving to improve the detection of prostate cancer. The current detection method, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, has been successful but it is considered too unreliable to be used in a routine screening programme. A clinical study is therefore underway to investigate whether MRI scans could be used to accurately screen for prostate cancer. Alongside this, the scientists will also study whether combining MRI scanning with cutting-edge techniques, such as genomics and machine learning, can eliminate the need for prostate biopsies.
Prostate cancer research has recently received a further funding boost when Theresa May announced £75 million to support new research into early diagnosis and treatment.