Happy 70th NHS

By Antony Tiernan
Engagement and Communications Director NHS 70
NHS England

The NHS is turning 70 on 5 July 2018. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions, to appreciate the vital role the service plays in our lives and to recognise and thank the extraordinary NHS staff – the everyday heroes – who are always there to greet, advise and care for us.

The birthday is also an opportunity to look at the radical thinking that led to the creation of the NHS, the breakthroughs which have transformed our health and well-being and how the service is evolving to meet our future needs, including the wide array of opportunities being created by advances in science, technology and information.

Communications professionals are an important part of the NHS family and play a vital role in telling the story of the NHS to the public, patients and staff. A story where we’re getting healthier, but we’re using the NHS more. A story where the quality of NHS care is demonstrably improving, but we’re becoming far more transparent about care gaps and mistakes. A story where staff numbers are up, but staff are under greater pressure. A story where the public are highly satisfied with the NHS, but concerned for its future.

This can be a difficult story to tell. However, we have three powerful factors on our side.

First, we are a passionate and versatile breed and we work hard. We have adapted to the changing world of communications and regularly go above and beyond.

Second, the NHS is one of the UK’s most recognisable ‘brands’ which is renowned far beyond our shores. We uphold this brand with pride. A brand which is much more than the famous blue lozenge. 

Third, we work with people who do some of the most amazing things as a day job. The midwives who deliver us into the world, the GPs and pharmacists who advise and treat us, the nurses, doctors and other clinicians who come to our aid when the unexpected happens, the porters who keep our hospitals moving, the support staff that make appointments happen, the researchers at the forefront of innovation and so many others. Their stories and those of the one million patients we see each day, bring the NHS to life.

This book tells the story of NHS communications and communicators. The things we do well and the things we need to be better at.

I am a proud NHS communicator and it is great to see our role being celebrated as part of the NHS’s 70th.


Antony Tiernan joined NHS England in 2015 and, working with a wide array of partners, is leading on plans to celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday. Prior to this, he worked at a senior and director level in a number of NHS Hospital Trusts including Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. 

Twitter: @AntonyTiernan
Online: nhs70.nhs.uk