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David Cameron said the NHS is a "wonderful institution" as the health service celebrated its 65th birthday.
The Prime Minister conceded there are "pressures and problems" but insisted "there is a lot to celebrate" about the NHS.
On a visit to Evelina Children's Hospital in central London, where his son Ivan received much of his treatment, Mr Cameron said: "Let's shine a light on the problem areas and, yes, let's always be on the side of the patient.
"But there is a lot to celebrate about this wonderful institution, as I know from my own family history. My son was treated right here in this fabulous hospital for much of his life."
Ivan Cameron, who suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, died in 2009 when he was six years old.
The first baby born in an NHS hospital told ITV's Daybreak the good things the health service does should be publicised, as well as the bad.
Aneira Thomas, who turns 65 today, was the youngest of seven children but the first of them to be born in a hospital, she said.
Before the NHS, the cost of having a baby in hospital was one shilling and sixpence, with many working class families, like her Welsh miner father Willie and mother Edna, had their children at home with a neighbour acting as midwife.
She told ITV's Daybreak that while it was important to highlight its failures, the NHS was not championed enough.
She said: "You do hear the bad stories, which lessons have to be learned from obviously. But we don't seem to praise the good stories, they don't make the headlines."
Writing for The Sun newspaper, the Prime Minister talked of his "love" of the NHS and how he was "touched" by the service's care for his son Ivan, who died in 2009.
David Cameron also talked of the challenges facing the service 65 years to the day after it was founded.
"There are huge issues to solve, such as how we provide proper personal care for frail and elderly people," he wrote.
A new study has warned that the NHS might not make its next milestone unless officials to take "deliberate and courageous action" to transform the service.
The new report, based on polling of staff and the general public by consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, recommends that the NHS moves from "fragmented to integrated care".
Writing the foreword, NHS Confederation chief Mike Farrar said the service faces "significant financial and demand pressures" and that it must firge an "agenda for change that meets the needs of the population it serves".
- 1948: First free hospital opened in Manchester
- 1958: First full hip replacements was carried out
- 1962: Contraceptive pill made available as a prescription to married women
- 1978: World's first test-tube baby was born
- 1988: Breast and cervical screening programme introduced for all women
- 1991: NHS Trusts established to make services more responsive to local needs
- 1998: Launch of NHS Direct service
- 2000: NHS walk-in centres launched
- 2009: Care Quality Commission launched as new healthcare regulator
- 16,864 GPs and 125,765 nurses and midwives
- Budget of £437 million (roughly £9 billion at today's value)
- Average child would receive vaccinations for smallpox and diphtheria only
- 14 days in hospital to give birth on average
- 1.7 million employees in total - only the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Wal-Mart and the Indian Railways directly employ more
- Budget of £108.9 billion
- Seven routine vaccinations for children
- Two days in hospital to give birth on average
Despite calling for the NHS to celebrated today, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has accused the government of taking it down the "wrong path".