People's History of the NHS

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Everyday Politics of the NHS

This gallery was made by the 'Cultural History of the NHS' students at the University of Warwick, in a session led by our team members Jane Hand and Jenny Crane. We asked our students to think of one object or 'thing' which represented the NHS for them. About half of our students thought of everyday objects from hospital life - the lanyard, blue curtain, and hand sanitiser. This raised questions for us all about how best to uncover seemingly mundane stories from staff and patients about the technologies and roomscapes which shaped their daily lives. These too, we agreed, are important to telling a people's history. Other students thought of media and political representations of NHS life - Jeremy Hunt and strike action. These are more popularly visualised on a public level, and yet their interaction with individual hospital objects and patient stories is often unexplored.

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One thought on “Blue curtain

  1. Interesting. Are the NHS curtains always blue? Is there a logic behind the choice of colour? And how has this changed over time?

    The issue of privacy is fascinating in relation to the public NHS. Some of the central imagery for the NHS (all those Carry On films for instance) is of patients lying in beds, side-by-side, in hospital wards. But there’s also clearly a history of perhaps rising concern over privacy which cuts across this. The thin curtains, and their thin veil of privacy, is perhaps the compromise. It would be interesting to know more about popular attitudes to this central object of everyday life in the hospital.

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