People's History of the NHS

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Branding private medicine

The branding of the NHS in the 1990s ran alongside the evolution of branding for the major private insurer of medicine, BUPA (the British United Provident Association). The two institutions have fascinatingly parallel histories. In fact BUPA was founded in 1947, a year before the opening of the NHS. The 1990s saw BUPA expanding from insurance to the provision of health and care services and efforts to rebrand itself as 'the personal health service'. The logoon the finishing-line ribbon for the 1998 Great North Run has some similarities to that of the NHS. The use of the heartbeat icon, which underlines the lettering, is apparent in BUPA advertising from 1983 but was combined inconsistently with the use of the capitals BUPA. The attachment of this icon to the capital white letters BUPA on a blue background is evident from the late 1990s and became more consistent over the next decade. In the most recent version of the logo (evident from 2009), there has been a shift to the use of lower case letters (Bupa). This revised logo continues to incorporate white lettering on blue background (now leaning forward, like the NHS logo) and a (shortened) heartbeat.


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