Protect and promote a comprehensive NHS
We are an independent group of researchers and journalists that work to ensure that we all have fair access to high-quality healthcare. We support our NHS and its staff, through evidenced-based campaigns and policy discussions
We are a voluntary organisation and not allied to any political party.
Our funding comes from supporters who work as health professionals and the general public, from grant-making trusts and the trade unions.
We have been campaigning for fair and universal access to healthcare, and in support of the NHS since 1989.
What do we do?
Public awareness is crucial in protecting and improving the NHS. Experience shows that we cannot leave it to our politicians. The issues are complex and misinformation is rife, and so we aim to help overcome these barriers to engage NHS supporters with information and campaigns.
We collect evidence about what is happening to the NHS, through research and by talking to the public and NHS staff.
We communicate the evidence through the media, by writing articles, designing websites and stimulating community discussions
We create campaigns to engage the public in improving access to healthcare or changing the way that it is organised.
It also very important for us to work with local communities. Often this is where services can be protected or improved, through local intervention. We help local people build community campaigns to influence the future of their NHS.
Through these activities, we aim to ensure that the NHS is there to care for us and the generations to come.
What do we believe?
Everyone in our society should have access to high-quality healthcare, regardless of their financial means.
The NHS should always offer a broad range of care and should reach patients throughout the country. We believe this is possible despite modern pressures and expectations.
The public shares the cost of the NHS through the tax system, this is the fairest and most efficient way. We all have a stake in the NHS and should, therefore, have a say in how it works.
As a society, we should recognise the evidence about the strengths of the NHS and preserve them. For this reason, the NHS should be a publicly driven service and those providing NHS care must put patient care ahead of financial gain.
Prof Harry Keen CBE
NHS Support Federation founder
Our founder: Professor Harry Keen
The NHS was conceived in 1948 to replace a patchwork of charity, private and municipal hospitals that left many people without care because they could not afford the fees for treatment or medicines. The decision to provide care free at the point of use and to share the cost fairly through taxation was ahead of its time.
Professor Harry Keen, founder of the NHS Support Federation, was in the early days of his career as a GP in 1948 (pictured, right) and could recall the immediate impact of the NHS.
"A few days before the Appointed Day (5 July 1948), I had visited a home on a large, new estate where little Billy had come out in a measles rash and started to cough with the bronchitis that often accompanied it. I examined him, wrote a prescription for some medicine, received my two shillings fee and said I'd call back in a couple of days.
When I returned, the mother informed me that Billy was a lot better. But as we spoke, a loud hacking cough came from upstairs, and I commented that he didn't sound better. 'Oh no,' said the mother, 'that's not Billy, it's Johnny, his brother.' When I offered to take a look at him, she said, 'I'd rather you didn't - we really can't afford it. He's just the same as Billy, so I've given him some of Billy's leftover medicine.' It was 5 July. I told her that from that day it wouldn't cost her anything and eventually walked away feeling much lighter in my heart.
The transformation that the NHS brought about in British medicine can only be imagined now. The relief from the burden of financial anxiety was palpable."