Definition of the National Health Service noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


the National Health Service

BrE BrE//ðə ˌnæʃnəl ˈhelθ sɜːvɪs//
; NAmE NAmE//ðə ˌnæʃnəl ˈhelθ sɜːrvɪs//
[singular] (abbreviation NHS)
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the public health service in Britain that provides medical care and is paid for by taxes I got my glasses on the National Health (Service). Culture British people have strong feelings about the importance of the NHS, and it is always one of the top political issues in Britain. The National Health Service was introduced in 1946 by the Labour government as part of the welfare state system recommended in the Beveridge Report, and it came into operation in 1948. At first it provided free medical, dental and hospital services for everyone, but in the 1960s charges for medicines and dental services were introduced. Since then the cost of the NHS has continued to rise and governments have been forced to find new ways of paying for it. The Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher was accused of trying to privatize the NHS (= sell it to private owners) after introducing hospital trusts and ‘fundholding’ (= a system allowing doctors to control how they spend their funds), and encouraging the growth of private medical services and private medical insurance. There are now fewer NHS dentists, but treatment by doctors and hospitals is still free of charge to patients. see also private patient