Each day seems to bring fresh warnings of the pressures bearing down on the NHS. As resources fail to keep track of demand, the principle of universal healthcare is under threat as never before. Excessive waiting times, the rationing of new drugs, ambulances queuing up outside A&E, staff shortages, the list goes on. What has brought the NHS to the precarious position it w finds itself in? And what might be done to ensure in future that care goes to those who need it, when they need it?This collection of essays by a cross-section of leading commentators explores the background to the present crisis and, more importantly, gets to grips with some of the ideas that need to be considered for reform. Contributors with a wide variety of political perspectives range from a former Health Secretary to working NHS doctors to academics and journalists. Each makes a unique input into the debate about how we must evolve our thinking if universal healthcare is to function effectively in the years ahead.The conversation is wide-ranging and often provocative. For some, reforms need only be made within the NHS in its current form. But, for others, guaranteeing free and equal access to services for the entire population requires looking beyond the existing structures of care. Most agree, however, that any serious effort to ease the burden on health services must start with the individual - long before they come to call on the NHS. Averting the demise of universal healthcare does t just end with the health of the nation: it begins with it too.