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Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 15:28 UK

NHS... 60 years on

Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel
The Politics Show

Hello again

Birthdays are an occasion for both celebration and reflection. And this week we have a big one ...for 60 years ago the National Health Service was born.

The date was the 05 July 1948. And like all births it was exceedingly painful.

This infant arrived kicking and screaming.

Nye Bevan
Nye Bevan: mercurial founder of the NHS

When Health Secretary, Nye Bevan, opened the first NHS hospital that day - in Manchester - he made a famous claim.

"We now have the moral leadership of the world", he said. And he launched a vicious attack on those who had opposed it.

"No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred of the Tory party", he spat.

"So far as I am concerned, they are lower than vermin."

The doctors too were appalled. But Bevan did allow consultants to see their private patients outside the new service.

"I stuffed their mouths with gold" he said.

Nye was a good hater.

60 years later it's a different story. Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats alike compete to be the party of the NHS.

The language is more moderate. But that doesn't mean there's no politics. There is always politics.

Next Monday, the Government will announce the findings of its year long review of the NHS carried out by the consultant surgeon - and Labour minister - Lord Darzi.

It may propose radical changes - particularly to the way that GPs work. There may even be a brand new constitution for the Health Service.

Alan Johnson MP
Alan Johnson, Health Secretary, joins us in the studio

The Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson and his Conservative opposite number, Andrew Lansley, will join me in the studio.

NHS across UK

And many of the Politics Show's national and regional programmes will be looking at the NHS at 60 too.

In Wales they'll be talking about arthritis. In London, it'll be childhood obesity. In the North East, the subject is alcohol.

In fact, you could argue that there's no such thing as a 'National' Service anymore. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own policies.

And there are huge regional variations in provision even within England.

Where better to get a handle on it all than the Politics Show on Sunday?

Free schools

Swedish flag
Schools in Sweden are inspiring the Conservative Party

Oh, and Paola Buonadonna's been to Sweden to look at how they run their schools. Why?

Because David Cameron says that what they do there might work here.

And with the Tories riding high in the polls we thought we should probably take a look.

See you on Sunday.


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