On Friday 8th June, the LVI (Year 12) girls were involved in an NHS Day, where we learnt about the history of the NHS and the problems that it faces. We started off by having a short lecture from Mrs Handy ((Head of History and Government/Politics) about the history, where we discovered that the NHS was first introduced to the UK in 1948 by the Secretary State for Health, Aneurin Bevan. Mrs Handy spoke about the epidemiological transition whereby the main cause of death and sickness amongst the population changed from infections to chronic diseases. This linked in well to the amount that we rely on GPs and the NHS now compared to 70 years ago, allowing us to move onto our next activity with this knowledge in mind.

The next activity was a rotation between three different stations. With Mrs Haydon (Head of Science) we learnt about the economics within the NHS. For example, a single woman’s birth with no complications costs roughly £1,600! We also discussed the ways in which the NHS may be able to save time or money and considered whether charging for GP appointments would be effective. Another station was with Mr Thomas (Head of RS and Critical Thinking) where we debated the ethics of genetically modifying embryos or better known as, ‘designer babies’. With Miss Aherne (Director of Sixth Form, Higher Education and Professional Guidance) we compared the NHS to other Health Services around the world, by reading articles about the way they work and comparing statistics (eg birth rates, patients per doctor etc).

Next, we had Question Time with our panel guests: Mr Mark Harris, the Chief Operating Officer for Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG); Dr Ailsa Sita-Lumsden, specialist Oncologist; Dr Jane Lees-Millais, a GP who is on an Ethics Committee in London and Dr Nicholas Brown, a self-employed GP, who was also joined by one of his GP trainees. The diverse members of the panel allowed us to have many different points of view on our questions, whilst also allowing us to recognise which views were commonly shared amongst doctors.

After our captivating discussion with our guests, we rounded off the day to debate: This house believes that NHS care should continue to be free for UK residents. The 'for' side was argued by Harriet and Tatiana, and the 'against' by Michaela and Zara. Many interesting points were made, but the majority vote went to the 'for' side.

Overall, the day was incredibly engaging and has made us all very aware of the in-depth struggles our NHS is facing, and the ways in which we can reduce these problems.

Rosie (Year 12)