Newsnight Just Marked 75 Years Of The NHS In A Way No One Expected

Not many were convinced by the sing-song.

BBC Newsnight’s special programme on the NHS has divided opinion after it ended with a children’s choir singing “happy birthday” to the system.

The free-at-the-point-of-care healthcare service – founded on July 5, 1948 – marks its 75th anniversary next month.

On Wednesday, the BBC’s late-night news show took an in-depth look at the state of the institution – which while being much-cherished is facing serious challenges, ranging from the impact of austerity and the pandemic to an ageing population and political opposition.

While the programme discussed the nuances, it ended with a celebration – a sing-song, with some comparing it to the NHS’s central role in the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

While much-loved, critics fear that the public healthcare system is excluding more people from the care they need thanks to long waiting lists, and suffers from acute staff shortages. Whether it’s a government funding or institutional problem is debated.

At the start, presenter Kirsty Wark said the show would celebrate the NHS and “discuss how we can bring the national health service back to full health”.

Introducing the song at the end, she said: “We are here to mark the birthday of the NHS, which turns 75 next week. We are finishing with a treat for all of us.”

She explained the Cambridge Children’s Hospital Choir, made up of local schools, would perform a special “happy birthday”.

The New Statesman’s George Eaton wrote in response: “Britons currently have the worst access to healthcare *in Europe*. The NHS (and the government) need journalistic scrutiny, not quasi-religious indulgence.”

Here are some of the other reactions.

But not everyone criticised ...

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