Every four years, the world has the opportunity to see the best of the best athletes represent their countries and compete for a medal in the Olympics. The games opened Friday, July 27, with an exciting show that highlighted the host country's people, history and achievements. The segment that caught my attention was part of the last salute where organizers honored two of Great Britain’s greatest achievements: the National Health System (NHS) and its amazing body of children’s literature. As most of you know, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, Cruella de Vil, the Queen of Hearts and Harry Potter were all created by British writers.
But why the NHS? The rationale given by the ceremony organizers as noted in an article I read is: “The NHS is the institution which more than any other unites the United Kingdom. It was founded just after World War II on Aneurin Bevan’s famous principle, ‘No society can legitimately call itself civilized if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.’”
In case you are unfamiliar with Great Britain’s healthcare system, the NHS is a publicly funded program that offers healthcare to millions of British residents and employs 1.7 million people. Like the U.S., the revered NHS is coming under pressure and some healthcare experts are calling for overhauling parts of the service.
Academy Award filmmaker Danny Boyle, who was the artistic director for the opening ceremony, cast 600 dancers in the tribute that featured scores of children on hospital beds that were transformed into trampolines for the program. The cast were largely volunteers who are employed in their regular lives by the NHS. If you did not see it, here is a clip from YouTube.
As our country struggles to come to terms with how to curb healthcare spending, improve consumer participation, increase prevention and ensure safe, quality healthcare for all, we can take comfort that other countries are also trying to work out ways to address these same issues in their countries. Keeping in mind the quote above of Aneurin Bevan seems to be a good guiding principle for all to consider when attempting restructuring a system as massive as the U.S. healthcare system.
Have a good week and enjoy the Olympics!