NHS – a health service of ‘firsts’

The NHS is set to become the first health service in the world to initiate a Covid-19 mass vaccination programme for a clinically approved jab.

The health service has been pioneering medical change throughout its history.

Here are some of the other “firsts” which have taken place in the NHS:

– 1948: The NHS becomes the world’s first universal healthcare system.

Nye Bevan
Nye Bevan is regarded as the founder of the NHS (PA)

– 1949: The first tuberculosis vaccine is routinely offered to nurses.

– 1958: The NHS delivers the first mass vaccination programme, with everyone under the age of 15 vaccinated against polio and diphtheria.

– 1962: Professor Sir John Charnley completes the first full hip replacement.

– 1972: The world’s first CT scan on a patient is carried out at Atkinson Morley Hospital, in Wimbledon, now part of St George’s Hospital.

Louise Brown
Louise Brown became known as the world’s first ‘test tube baby’ (PA)

– 1978: The world’s first baby is born as a result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

– 1987: The world’s first combined liver, heart and lung transplant is carried out at Cambridgeshire’s Papworth Hospital.

– 1988: The MMR vaccine is first introduced. Before this there were between 160,000 to 800,000 measles cases a year.

– 1999: The Meningitis C vaccine is first introduced – the UK was the first country in the world to offer the jab on a national level thanks to the NHS.

A robot arm used in heart surgery
The NHS performed the world’s first remote heart operation using a robot arm (Rui Vieira/PA)

– 2010: British pensioner Kenneth Crocker, 70, is the world’s first patient to have heart surgery using a fully remote-controlled robotic arm. The operation took place at the NHS’s Glenfield Hospital, Leicestershire.

– 2016: Two NHS patients in England become some of the first in the world to benefit from pioneering hand and upper arm transplants.

– 2019: The world’s first gene therapy operation for common cause of sight loss is carried out by researchers in Oxford last February.

– 2020: The NHS becomes the first health system in the world to initiate a clinically approved Covid-19 vaccination programme.

And the NHS becomes the world’s first national health system to commit to become “carbon net zero”.

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