The British National Health Service, the NHS, is probably the most trusted, and perhaps even loved, institution in the U.K., used by almost 62 million people. It delivers all care without charge at the point of delivery, except for some dental and optical services. The service was conceived in the late 1930s because British healthcare was a mess, and is funded from general taxation; its current budget is about £100 billion a year. Since its inauguration in 1948, it has removed much of the fear, and often terror, that illness can — and for most of the world’s population does — have for ordinary people. Built by post-war Minister Aneurin Bevan, it could be a model for other countries. Treatment is overwhelmingly decided by need and not cost; we pay for items on a GP’s prescription, but substantial proportions of the population are in exempt categories.

Of course the service is not perfect. Seeing your GP can, on occasion, take some days. Seeing a specialist over a non-urgent condition can mean waiting some weeks, which can vary around the country. But — if you need treatment you get it, and urgently, if necessary.

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