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The National Health Service (NHS) is the name commonly used to refer to the four publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom, collectively or individually, although only the health service in England uses the name 'National Health Service' without further qualification. The publicly-funded healthcare organisation in Northern Ireland does not use the term 'National Health Service', but is still commonly referred to as the 'NHS'.
- [[Image:Template:Country flag alias England|22x20px|Template:Country alias England]] England — National Health Service
- [[Image:Template:Country flag alias Scotland|22x20px|Template:Country alias Scotland]] Scotland — NHS Scotland
- [[Image:Template:Country flag alias Wales|22x20px|Template:Country alias Wales]] Wales — NHS Wales
- Northern Ireland — Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.
Forming the basis of healthcare in the United Kingdom, each system operates independently, and is politically accountable to the relevant devolved government of Scotland (Scottish Government), Wales (Welsh Assembly Government) and Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland Executive), and to the UK government for England.
Originally, three services (for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) were established by separate pieces of legislation and began operating on 5 July 1948. The Department of Health had responsibility for the NHS in England and Wales, the Scottish Office had responsibility for the NHS in Scotland and the Government of Northern Ireland had responsibility for public health in Northern Ireland. Following the creation of a Welsh Office in 1964, responsibility for public health services in Wales was transferred to it from the Department of Health in 1969.. In turn, responsibility for NHS Wales and NHS Scotland transferred from the Welsh Office and Scottish Office to the Welsh Department of Health and Social Services and the Scottish Government Health Department, respectively, under devolution in 1999.
There is no discrimination when a patient resident in one country of the United Kingdom requires treatment in another. The consequent financial matters and paperwork of such inter-working are dealt with between the organisations involved and there is generally no personal involvement by the patient comparable to that which might occur when a resident of one European Union member country receives treatment in another.
- 'BIRTH OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE | How the state of the nation's health became a political ideal', a BBC Archive collection of programmes and documents.
- Celebrating 60 years of the NHS in Scotland (useful insight into the distinct development of public healthcare in Scotland)
- NHS Choices The NHS website