People's History of the NHS

  • 15
  • JAN

Joe Harrison on what the NHS means

by Jenny Crane

We are delighted to share with you the above reflections by Joe Harrison, the CEO of Milton Keynes Hospital.  Of the quote, he says …

“As part of my week curating @NHS I wrote a few paragraphs on what I think the NHS means to us all on January 13th.

It was a chance to pause and reflect on the enormity of the what the NHS does throughout our lives, and also to recognise the hard work and skill of our NHS staff who characterise the founding principles of our health service.

I love the NHS and all it stands for in our society; that no-one need worry about seeking the help they need because they cannot afford it; that every child born has full and equal access to health and care services regardless of what their parents earn. It is a tremendous societal achievement and one we should do everything in our power to preserve for future generations.

The response to the message has been really positive – I think and hope it resonates with most people, as the NHS is a service we will all depend on at some point in our lives.”

The sense of love and pride for the NHS in this quote resonates throughout the research and engagement events we conduct, inflected and entwined with popular concerns about the politics and future of the Service.  The idea of overlapping and multiple identities – us all as patients, practitioners, contributors to the NHS in various ways – also is key in our work.

We would love to hear from more people on our key research question, What does the NHS mean to you?  If anyone would like to share a similar reflection, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Jenny Crane from our team at

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