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Staff praised for 'brilliance' as NHS turns 70

Sky News logo Sky News 05/07/2018
A protester wears badges on her hat as she attends a rally against private companies' involvement in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care services provision and against cuts to NHS funding in central London on March 4, 2017 © Getty A protester wears badges on her hat as she attends a rally against private companies' involvement in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care services provision and against cuts to NHS funding in central London on March 4, 2017

NHS staff have been praised as the institution celebrates its 70th birthday.

Chief executive Simon Stevens says the service's success is due to the "brilliance" of its 1.5 million doctors, nurses, ambulance staff, therapists, porters, caterers and others who, along with volunteers, make up the biggest care team in the world.

In a message recorded in an ambulance control room, Mr Stevens said: "It's a time of celebration, looking back over seven decades when we're all living a lot longer and healthier, more than 10 years extra.

Video - NHS at 70: Key moments in its history (PA)

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"We've seen amazing medical advances, whether its organ transplantations or new cures for cancer or vaccines.

"But the reason why the health service does so well is frankly due to the brilliance of the staff.

"So, although this is our birthday, today our ambulance crews, here in the ambulance control room where I'm standing, our community nurses, our midwives welcoming new babies into the world, people who are going to be visiting their GP today...

A protester holds a placard in support of the NHS in front of the Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament during a march against private companies' involvement in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care services provision and against cuts to NHS funding in central London on March 4, 2017 © Getty A protester holds a placard in support of the NHS in front of the Elizabeth Tower, also known as Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament during a march against private companies' involvement in the National Health Service (NHS) and social care services provision and against cuts to NHS funding in central London on March 4, 2017

"Staff are going to be doing what they do day in day out.

"And it's frankly because of the staff of the health service that the nation has just re-committed to the idea of a health service, there when you need us based on how sick you are - not whether you can afford us, a principle that has stood the test of time.

"On that basis, we should use this moment to say a heartfelt thank you to the million-and-a-half staff of the National Health Service for everything you do for all of us and for our families, day in, day out."

A surgeon and his theatre team perform key hole surgery to remove a gallbladder at at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England © Getty A surgeon and his theatre team perform key hole surgery to remove a gallbladder at at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England

The day will see celebrations around the country, including thousands of Big 7Tea events to thank staff and raise awareness of NHS charities.

There will also be services at Westminster Abbey and York Minster to thank staff and patients.

Ethel Armstrong, an 87-year-old former nurse cadet and radiographer - who was working in the NHS on its first day - will be running the @NHS Twitter account.

In pictures: The fascinating history of the NHS (Mirrorpix)

THE NHS IS BORN: It was on July 5, 1948 when the National Health Service was launched by health secretary Aneurin Bevan, seen here visiting a 13 year old patient in Lancashire on the very first day the scheme starts. NHS at 70: Poignant photos recall the birth of Bevan's plan to bring good healthcare to all, regardless of wealth

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