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The NHS at 70: a milestone to celebrate and build on

The creation of the NHS in 1948 revolutionised public health in the UK. Since then, we’ve come to rely on the service with the NHS dealing with over one million patients every 36 hours1.


Today, the opportunity for the NHS to improve the health and wellbeing of UK patients is still growing. A new generation of innovation is on the horizon with medicines and technologies that could cure and potentially eradicate deadly diseases.

From vaccines, to medicines for cancer and rare diseases, these treatments have the power to change lives. However, to fully realise their benefits for patients, the NHS and the pharmaceutical industry must work together more closely than ever before in a new era of partnership.

Since opening our first facility in the UK in 1952, we are proud to have supplied the NHS with potentially life changing medicines that have improved the lives of patients across the country. Our Sandwich site was among the first in the world to mass produce penicillin, with Sir Alexander Fleming in attendance as guest of honour when the first batch of antibiotics was produced in 19542.

Since then, we have continued to bring treatments to UK patients in areas such as advanced breast cancer and erectile dysfunction, as well as vaccines to help prevent the spread of disease.

The pace of scientific discovery has accelerated, heralding exciting treatments and cures but with the challenges of an ageing population and increases in chronic diseases, we are seeing unprecedented levels of pressure on NHS finances, infrastructure and human resource.

A voluntary agreement between the Department of Health and pharmaceutical companies has seen the industry contribute more than £2 billion to the Government over the last five years to help meet the cost of innovative medicines and support a sustainable NHS3. Nevertheless, UK patients still experience lower and slower access to new treatments than those in other developed countries4.

This means we must work together to find new ways to embrace next-generation ideas and technologies that can transform care and improve lives within the constraints of a limited budget.

We are already supporting an NHS organisation to understand how emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, can help patients and alleviate pressures on healthcare services and it is partnerships like these, which will help to sustain the NHS for the next 70 years.

In addition, if implemented in full and with the involvement and commitment of the NHS, the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy could transform patient care and increase the speed with which new medicines and vaccines are made available across the UK5. This could, in turn, unlock new opportunities for clinical trials, research and development and STEM learning across the UK.

The NHS has an extraordinary legacy. There can be few institutions that have achieved so much for so many. So let us celebrate this year’s anniversary by helping the NHS make the most of the exciting medical advances on the horizon.

By working together, let us seize the opportunity to take care of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, not just for today, but for long into the future.


Erik Nordkamp
Managing Director
Pfizer UK


STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths



  1. NHS Confederation, NHS statistics, facts and figures
  2. Pfizer. Our history and achievements.
  3. Department of Health and Social Care. 2014 Pharmaceutical Price and Regulation Scheme (PPRS) Aggregate net sales and payment information. November 2017.
  4. PwC Strategy. Driving Global Competitiveness of the UK’s Life Sciences Ecosystem. For the benefit of UK patients, the economy and the NHS. Feb 2017.
  5. UK Government, Life Sciences: Industrial Strategy


PP-PFE-GBR-1285 / July 2018