Health care was still sporadic and the quality of service varied extremely from location to location, but its popularity was growing as was society's reliance on it. World Wars I and II brought the issue of a national health system again to the forefront. Lessons learned during these two wars showed the benefits of organization, logistics and a centralized control. Politically, in the years following World War II, the unification of health care became a central issue. The government saw the benefits of administering the evolving healthcare system under one unified body. On July 5, 1948 the National Health Service (NHS) was born. Since its inception, the NHS has been continually changing and adapting to meet ever increasing challenges in the changing world.
To understand the complexity of the NHS it is necessary to understand its hierarchical roots. NHS falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health established in 1974 as per the first national health reorganization. This reorganization resulted from the rethinking of how national health issues should be addressed and recognized, as well, the need for partnership, innovative solutions and measurable results. Increased authority was give to first line health providers in an attempt to streamline processes, identify problem areas and design solutions. During the process, fourteen directorates were eliminated and 3 business groups were instituted - each assigned with the task of addressing specific areas: strategic direction for health and social care; improving the delivery of services; and setting, monitoring and maintaining quality standards. Each of these directors sits on the Board of Directors and oversees the operations of the NHS. To that end, this progressive alignment has lead to a broad based approach of examining all factors affecting the NHS and health care in the United Kingdom in general. Although issues have changed over the last few decades, since the inception of this comprehensive plan, the responsibility has not.
One of the recent concerns of NHS has been the difficulty in retaining and recruiting nurses and other lower paid staff due to increased costs in childcare. Additionally, hospitals operate on a continual basis and even if one can obtain childcare, the often erratic, non-traditional hours when child care is needed further limits availability. In an attempt to offset this, on May 11, 2004, the Health Secretary John Reid, announced a new child care allowance which aided students funded by NHS to receive childcare assistance. The program was estimated to cost 17 million pounds a year to operate. The program would stand to benefit approximately 6,000 student nurses. While in a student status, the reimbursement would be up to 85% of the child care costs incurred, the reimbursable amount ranging from 114 to 170 pounds per week depending on the number of children a student has. Further the launch of the program made allowance claim reimbursement retroactive to September of 2004.
Announcing the Child Care program, John Reid said during his speech at the Royal College of Nursing conference, "Many NHS - funded students who are parents face difficulties when embarking in training due to increased financial commitments, including child care costs. This can make training less attractive to mature students, single