The NHS in Scotland turns 70 in 2018

Anniversary year marked by significant achievements.   

2018 sees the 70th anniversary of the NHS in Scotland, with a number of significant milestones and records marking the occasion.

Since its creation on 5 July 1948 the NHS in Scotland has seen a number of important and significant developments, including:

  • In its first year, 15 million prescriptions were dispensed in Scotland - today, the figure is over 103 million with these now being provided free as a result of landmark reforms under this government
  • In 1948 1.2 million people were seen as outpatients – in 2016/17, there were around 4.25 million outpatient attendances
  • In 1948 NHS Scotland employed 22,062 nurses and midwives – today, this has risen to a new record high of over 59,000
  • In 1959 Scotland became a world leader in health education, with the UK’s first nursing and midwifery studies unit set up at Edinburgh University - this year saw the highest ever number of acceptances to study nursing and midwifery at Scottish universities

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“Scotland’s NHS has changed significantly in its 70 years, but its best qualities have endured. From the care, compassion, and professionalism of our staff, to remaining a public, universal service based on need – it has been 70 years of striving at all times for the highest possible standards in clinical excellence and patient care,

“The choices, services and outcomes that NHS Scotland provides today would not have been imaginable in 1948, and it keeps adapting, developing and changing. The lesson of the years since its creation is that staying still simply isn’t an option. Through our approach of investment and reform, we will keep driving forward improvements and innovations.

“Everyone will have their own personal stories of what the NHS has done for them - why we must never take our health service for granted. I am delighted to see our NHS reach such a significant anniversary and I hope all of Scotland will join the celebrations this year as we pay tribute to everything it has achieved.”


More information on the NHS in Scotland’s 70th anniversary will be available on


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