UK Healthcare system

Insight into the NHS

The National Health Service was set up in 1948 to provide healthcare for all citizens, based on need, not the ability to pay and is funded by the taxpayer. It is made up of a wide range of health professionals, support workers and organisations.

Department of Health

This is the Government department responsible for delivering a fast, fair, convenient and high quality health and social care service to the people of England. It is responsible for giving NHS Organisations, such as hospital trusts and GP’s, the information, guidance and support they need to deliver the Government’s policies and meet its standards of patient care. It supports Government ministers in developing the standards and broad working practices of the NHS and local social services. It monitors standards and takes steps to deal with services that are poor or failing. It also works on ways to prevent disease and help people live longer, healthier and more independent lives.

Health Authorities

In England and Wales, health authorities identify the health needs of local people and make arrangements for services to be provided by NHS trusts, primary care and other agencies, using funding provided by the Government. In Scotland, this is carried out by health boards and in Northern Ireland; it is the responsibility of the health and social services boards.

NHS trusts

Hospital trusts are found in most large towns and cities, and usually offer a general range of services to meet most people’s needs. Some trusts also act as regional or national centres of expertise for more specialised care, while some are attached to universities and help to train health professionals. Trusts can also provide services in the community – for example through health centres, clinics or in people’s homes. Except in the case of emergencies, hospital treatment is arranged through your GP. This is called a referral. Appointments and treatment are free. Together, NHS trusts employ the majority of the NHS workforce including nurses, doctors, dentists, pharmacists, midwives, health visitors and staff from the professions allied to medicine, such as physiotherapists, radiographers, podiatrists, speech and language therapists, counsellors, occupational therapists and psychologists.

NHS walk-in centres

There are many NHS walk-in centres across the UK that offer fast access to health advice and treatment. They are open and available to anyone and provide a seven-day a week service. Assessments are made by an experienced NHS nurse for minor injuries and illnesses and offer instant health advice and information on local out-of-hours GP, dental and pharmacy services

Primary care

The first port of call for many people when they develop a health problem is their local doctor, also known as a general practitioner. These doctors usually form a small practice or surgery to serve a particular neighbourhood. GP’s are on the frontline of the NHS – the part officially called ‘primary care’. Many other health professionals work as part of this frontline team – nurses, health visitors, dentists, opticians, pharmacists and a range of specialist therapists. Every UK citizen has a right to be registered with a local GP and visits to the surgery are free. NHS direct and NHS walk-in centres are also part of primary care.

Primary care groups and trusts

Since 1999, GP’s have been able to join together to form ‘primary care groups’ or ‘primary care trusts’ along with other health professionals. This means they are given the funding to work together to plan and commission health services for their local communities – a role previously carried out by health authorities. It also means that decisions about local services are made at a local level, by those best placed to make them.

The duties of a doctor registered with the General Medical Council

Patients should always feel that they could trust a doctor with their lives and well-being. We as a profession have a duty to maintain a good standard of practice and must always show respect to human life.

If you are a doctor, you must:

  1. Make the care of your patient your first concern
  2. Treat every patient with politeness and consideration.
  3. Respect every patient’s dignity and privacy.
  4. Listen to patients and respect their views.
  5. Give patients information in a way they can easily understand.
  6. Respect the rights of patients.
  7. Always keep the patient involved in decisions about their care.
  8. Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.
  9. Recognise the limits of your professional competence.
  10. Always be honest and trustworthy.
  11. Respect and protect confidential information.
  12. Ensure that your personal beliefs do not prejudice your patients’ care.
  13. Act quickly to protect patients from risk especially when you have reason to believe that a colleague may not be fit to practice.
  14. Avoid abusing your position as a doctor.
  15. Always work with your colleagues in the ways that best serve the patients interests.

In all these matters, you must never discriminate unfairly against your patients or working colleagues.

You must always be prepared to justify your actions


-: Home :-