People's History of the NHS

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This blog was kindly written for us by Evan Brown, and offers his thoughts on best practice in creating visual aids for autistic children. For our project, this blog shows the broad variety of meanings which we associate with 'the NHS'.  The NHS is not only hospitals or GP practices,

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My Stay in Hospital Age 5 (or How I Came to Develop White Coat Syndrome). I was told I was a difficult child, always being compared unfavourably with my elder brother. Even as a pre-school child I associated periods of my mother being ill as being caused by me, when
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By Evan Brown As this amazing poster by NHS describes [image 1], an Autism-related meltdown is often passed off as an episode of tantrum by a headstrong child. The lack of awareness on living with an Autistic individual often leads to painful and exasperating results for these children as their
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By Andrew Burchell, Research Fellow, Department of History Founded in 1981 by the anthropologist David Pocock and the archivist Dorothy Sheridan at the University of Sussex, the Mass Observation Project (or MOP, for short) is a revival of the older Mass-Observation initiative (active 1937-c.1948). As with its predecessor, MOP recruits

The NHS explained in eight charts Maria Goddard, University of York The Beveridge Report outlined a radical plan for a National Health Service, provided free to all UK citizens, regardless of their income. Seventy years later, the groundbreaking NHS is as complex as it is large (it is the fifth

Seven decades after the Labour government of Clement Attlee and his Health Minister Aneurin Bevan founded the National Health Service, the party is having a leadership election. While the popularity of the NHS is enduring amongst the British public, in the Labour fold commitment to it is an article of faith. So at

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I started working in the NHS when it was just 33 years old, and I was just 22 years old. I worked in the Statistics Section of the Northern Regional Health Authority (RHA), in Benfield Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, next to Walkergate Hospital. The Regional Statistician had set up the
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I was born on January 6th 1948 and went to Littleover Infants School, Derby, in January 1953. I had been very poorly during that year, and was diagnosed with scarlet fever because I had a bad rash on my legs. I was very thin and coughed but the Doctor told
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See our virtual museum gallery on political posters What kind of insight do party political manifestos offer for a People’s History of the NHS? In the 2015 election, political commentators raised the question of who actually reads these sprawling documents. It’s a fair point. Nevertheless, analysis of the language and

To find a pair of Philip Larkin’s glasses – and some of his poetry – on display in an NHS hospital might in many ways seem to be a somewhat strange meeting of cultures. Yet in 2012, the Hull and East Yorkshire Eye Hospital made this very decision, exhibiting Larkin’s striking

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I joined the NHS in 1975 as a chartered mechanical engineer to be the technical lead in the Orthotic Research & Locomotor Assessment (ORLAU), a new multi-disciplinary team (doctor, physiotherapist, engineer, technicians) based in the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. The Unit was established by Gordon
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On the 14th of May 2013, Hollywood actress, filmmaker and humanitarian, Angelina Jolie announced that she had undergone a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer because she carries a mutated gene that left her at an 87% risk of the disease. In an op-ed in the

Conventionally understood, work is an economic activity driven by the necessity to eat, clothe and house ourselves and our families. For most historians of work, it is also social, concerned with the relationships between people and society, between capital and labour. We tend to expand on the popular idea of

In the 1960s perhaps the most popular portrayal of the British GP came in the form of the television series, Dr Finlay’s Casebook, which ran on the BBC from 1962 to 1971, attracting an audience of up to 12 million. The irony was that this was set, not in the

I have mother is half-African and half-English and my dad was from Barbados. So the person that came over at the time of the Windrush was actually my grandfather. He came over to work for British Rail as it was then called, working on the railways. He did that until

Please see below a very interesting new blog about the ways in which young people are represented in the NHS currently.  For the historical context, our researcher Jack Saunders has also written a great encyclopedia entry about representation.  Questions about who gets a say in governing the NHS, but also

A significant interest in something called mental health, not just mental illness, can be dated back in Britain to the interwar years. In other words, it was not a product of the new National Health Service. Indeed, hope that the new service might provide the opportunity for a vigorous state

The expression most commonly included in descriptions of the National Health Service – “free at the point of use” – refers to one feature that most people in Britain might easily identify. That we can go to the hospital or GP and not have to pay is immediately apparent and

This encyclopaedia entry looks at the changing relationship between clinical and cultural representations of x-rays from 1895 until the present day, encompassing courting skeletons, frogs’ knees, floral radiography, x-ray eyes and more. . . . By the introduction of the NHS in 1948, x-ray technology had improved substantially from its

On 27th February 2017, the Government debated an e-petition which had received 117,344 signatures through the Parliamentary website.  The petition noted that there are 193 attacks on NHS staff per day in England, and called for it to become a specific offence to attack a member of NHS staff, in

The creation of the National Health Service in 1948 was the latest in a string of major changes for Britain’s hospitals over the first half of the twentieth century. As a result of which, in the decades since the First World War, they had become firmly established as community institutions. At the turn of

Roberta Bivins, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick This blog was written by Roberta Bivins in response to presentations by David Herzberg and Nancy Tomes, made at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and organised by the Consortium for History of Science, Technology & Medicine.  The presentations

I’ve been in the NHS for the past 33 years, mainly in the mental health sector. I started with older adults and moved over to adults and now I’m in the Clinical Commissioning Group. My role here at the moment is ‘Coordinator for Mental Health’, and what that entails is

The NHS holds a profound power over British national consciousness, and can inspire deeply-felt loyalties, convictions and responses from the public that it seeks to serve, and those that serve it. This is evident when turning to the many different representations of the NHS, and literature clearly forms a complex

We are always interested in hospital art, graffiti, poetry, and culture.  This month, our researcher Natalie Jones, who is also a visual artist, went to Malta to speak at a conference about Beauty and the Hospital in History.  We are also currently building our programme for 2018, the 70th Anniversary

The NHS inspires, and has long inspired, a range of cultural representations, tributes, and, indeed, critiques, including from poetry, literature, visual art, and television and film. Today, we are delighted to share a special poem, written by Larry Lagrue in honour of the NHS 70th Anniversary. Larry is a Dorset

Elsewhere on the site this week we've been focusing on student nursing under the NHS, with an encyclopaedia entry charting the history of nursing training and a gallery of 1960s nursing school prospectuses. Building on that, this blog features some extracts from a huge submission we got from the daughter of



Since the 1940s mass vaccination programmes have formed important elements in the governmental provision of healthcare services to children. Collectively, they have reduced the incidence and severity of numerous childhood diseases. Yet, they have also been subject to moments of social anxiety and panic over safety issues, necessity and the

by Ed Devane, PhD candidate, University of Warwick This July marked not only the seventy-first anniversary of the NHS but also one-hundred years of council housing by way of the 1919 Housing, Town Planning Act. Supported by the People’s History of the NHS project, we organised a community history event

Presently I’m employed as a Continuing Health Care Nurse with Sandwell & West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). I first considered nursing in 1990. At the time I was actually training to become a nursery nurse but I realised that I wanted something more from my job hence the change

Ok. So the NHS is complicated. We get that: after all, it is the largest single employer in Britain, and one of the five largest employers in the whole world. Even if it were just an ordinary business, it would be a complex one, with lots of moving parts. And

I've spent more than a decade answering a question my Nan asked me. When I was a History student and told her I was studying the social and welfare history of her own childhood, she recounted what was asked of her as a small child between the wars when her father

On the 4th of December 1961, Enoch Powell, then Minister for Health, confirmed in the House of Commons that ‘birth control pills’, as he called them, could be prescribed on the NHS. Now in its sixth decade, the availability of the contraceptive pill on the National Health Service has become

See our virtual museum gallery on this topic The idea of having been ‘born in the NHS’ has become a popular way for people to assert their identification with, and support for, the National Health Service. It is an idea with powerful emotional appeal. But its prominence is in fact

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When Richard Titmuss was being treated for cancer at the Westminster Hospital in around 1973, he recalled that he took with him John Rawls’ recent book A Theory of Justice. The serious reading matter is no surprise. Titmuss was a Professor of Social Policy and arguably the key intellectual theorist

I’m currently working as matron for community wards within Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust. I qualified as a registered nurse in 2007. I had my first staff nurse role within this trust on a medical rotation. Soon after that, in 2009 I got my first nursing band six post

The history of the NHS is deeply embedded within personal histories of birth. It is often a central figure in bringing both ourselves, and our children, safely into the world. While most births occur close to their due date, there are times when NHS neonatal services are essential in ensuring


Guest encyclopaedia entry by Professor Pat Thane In 1948 c. 70,000 chronically sick older people occupied beds mainly in former Poor Law hospitals, expected to stay until death, often having suffered strokes or heart attacks. Many more, living at home, were disabled by conditions which were minor and curable for

In retrospectives of David Bowie’s career following his death in January 2016, much was made of his ability to transform himself, not just musically, but also in terms of style and identity, as marked most memorably by his adoption of the character of Ziggy Stardust in the early 1970s. Yet,

Returning from a summer holiday in Ireland in August 1948, Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee was admitted to St Mary’s Hospital Paddington to be treated for eczema of the foot. The condition was perhaps brought on by seasonal allergy or stress (it’s interesting how many of the Labour cabinet would

Examining Alternatives: What can ‘managed care’ say to the NHS? First, a declaration: I love the NHS as perhaps only a (once-) foreigner can. I grew up largely uninsured in an under-insured family in the United States. As a child, all my medical and dental care was delivered by earnest

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A brief family history: My NHS Story starts with my mother. When she announced to her family that she was studying to be a Nurse - it was not the career they had in mind for her. In the 1950's women had a totally different role in domestic and employment
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In collaborating with the BBC for this year’s 70th anniversary of the NHS we wanted to find out how people felt about the future of the NHS, as well as thinking about its past, and so another question that we felt it was important to put forward to the interviewees

Job Title: ‘Continuing Healthcare Nurse Assessor’ My mother and father both came from Barbados. My mother actually came over on one of the contracts to be a nurse in London. She came to London with a friend and they started their nursing training. They didn’t like it and she had

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This memory was kindly provided by Richard Harding, GP, now retired. In the 1980s a gunman killed 14 people in Hungerford. Whenever there is a disaster of that kind, I wonder what might have prevented it. At that time, doctors had to countersign applications for gun licences before they were
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Since the start of the NHS, multiple types of activism have sought to protect, save, change, or shape the Service.  The British Medical Association’s early opposition to the NHS has been well-documented, but other trade unions and professional bodies also surveyed their members’ views and lobbied for change, including the

  Guest blog kindly provided by Yvonne Newbold; a writer, speaker and trainer who is also the mother to three children, including Toby who is multiply disabled with profound learning disabilities.  Get in touch with Yvonne @YvonneNewbold, or see her website here.     When my mother left Dublin in 1946, just

See our virtual museum gallery on this topic Britain’s National Health Service did not come out of nowhere. There were many notable developments, schemes and efforts to co-ordinate and unify healthcare over the preceding decades. Yet the road to 1948 can look rather sparse in terms of major government reforms. were

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Memories of nursing in the seventies and looking to the future by Gillian Singleton I was born in Morley West Yorkshire in 1956 and had a Grammar school education and although I enjoyed learning new things I wasn’t an academic student. I was very practical and I had a compelling
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My mother was a teacher and as such, was well aware the potential harm to my education if my hearing was poor. In the 1970s the usual practice for dealing with glue ear was to wait until the child was 5 at least. Too late in my mother's opinion. Somehow
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The funniest joke at the Edinburgh Fringe festival this year, as chosen by a panel of critics for Dave TV channel, was, ‘My dad suggested I register for a donor card, he's a man after my own heart’ (told by Masai Graham). This week, from 5th–11th September, is Organ Donation

For the last five months, the People’s History of the NHS team have been working with the production company 7Wonder to create a new three-part series for BBC Four, The People’s History of the NHS.  It has been an amazing experience to step behind the TV production curtain into the


Today, as we are staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives, we at the People's History of the NHS thought it might be a great time to think about where the NHS can be seen in our homes, and how we experience it during our normal day-to-day lives. This


We are coming in to election season. This week will see local council elections across much of England. Londoners will be voting for a new Mayor and for the London Assembly. The Scots will be voting the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. The Welsh will be voting for the Welsh Assembly.

Guest encyclopaedia entry by Professor John Stewart. Pictured: Lord (John) Boyd Orr of Brechin (1880-1971).   The National Health Service (NHS) is often, and quite rightly, cited as one of the institutions which make people most proud to be British. Nonetheless within the United Kingdom there is not one NHS, but rather

What it means to be a “student nurse” has changed a great deal over the lifetime of the NHS, with the expectations, status and rights of student nurses changing between 1948 and the present day. Prior to the NHS, nurse training had varied markedly according to where you were trained

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My experience nursing during the 1950’s… I always wanted to be a nurse but after leaving school at 16 years old I was too young to start my general training, so I was advised to take a two year course to be a Nursery Nurse. I really enjoyed the period
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Famously, the new National Health Service of 1948 provided the British people with free spectacles and dentures according to need. The huge demand that ensued has come to be seen as a symbol of the transformative nature of the new service. Less well known is that the NHS also set

Portraits and Power What do you see, in your mind's eye, when you hear the word 'doctor'? And 'nurse'? Until very recently indeed, the most common answer to these questions would have been 'An older white man' and 'a white woman'. Even today, research suggests that we commonly expect the



‘I’m now coming to the end of my first year of nursing practice. I didn’t always want to go into nursing; I only decided recently that I did. I didn’t want an office job. I wanted to be interacting with people a lot and helping children in a very practical

The British Medical Association (BMA) was founded in Worcester in July 1832 as the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, a collective organisation for doctors. Established in the midst of a cholera outbreak, the association was initially established for the sharing of scientific and medical knowledge. However after re-branding themselves as

My parents came to the UK- not from Jamaica which is often associated the Windrush generation. My father came from St. Kitts and my mother from Barbados who met married and had their children of which I am the eldest. My father came to England at the age of nineteen

During the current junior contract dispute the events of 1975 have been a point of comparison for various commentators (including me in a Guardian piece), but there's been little focus on the details of negotiations and what eventually settled it. In this blog I'll be looking in detail at how the

I qualified as a nurse in the mid 90’s and have worked in the NHS for most of my career. Whilst growing up my mother spent a lot of time in & out of hospital as she had end stage renal failure and I often watched the doctors and nurses

To write the People's History of the NHS, our project team are passionate about sharing our research, meeting people, and hearing your memories about how the NHS has changed over time.  On Tuesday 16 February, the team attended a free public event at the Modern Records Centre in Coventry about 'The

The National Health Service is one of the largest employers in the world, and is the largest employer in Britain itself. It relies on a very wide range of professions and occupations to keep its doors open – from the highly visible doctors and nurses to the often-forgotten or undervalued

One of our key public events is the 'NHS Roadshow'.  This is loosely based on the Antiques Roadshow, and we ask members of the public to bring along their personal items relating to the NHS - baby tags, glasses, campaign badges, prescription forms, old Lloyd George insurance cards. . . 


Developments in computing provided many benefits to clinicians and patients, but were also the cause of much concern. This cartoon accompanied an article in the Guardian, which stated that: ‘One fine day we’ll look round and find computers are making all our medical decisions for us, they’ll be sorting our

Medical social work was placed in an odd position by the arrival of the NHS in 1948. The profession had gained a high-status foothold in British hospitals by administering the patient payment schemes that rapidly became commonplace in the financially turbulent years following the First World War. The fact that no such

After the National Health Service was established in 1948, The King’s Fund set up several schemes to provide advice to hospitals, including the Hospital Catering Advisory Service. Advice included this document on how to make the most of rationed commodities after World War II

The Whittington Hospital in North London provides an example of a hospital clinging on to its own logo - Dick Whittington's black cat - alongside the new NHS branding. We are interested in tracing the extent to which this was a more general phenomenon and the politics of such a

Between October 1978 and February 1979 Britain experienced a wave of strikes on a scale that hadn’t been seen since the General Strike of 1926. First Ford workers, then lorry drivers, council workers and NHS staff all walked out causing severe disruption to public services. This series of events came

From its inception, the NHS was a focus for medical research and invention, as well as the delivery of established medical treatments. The constant need to cut or contain costs while providing state-of-the-art services to all was one key driver of innovation. Cost certainly played a role in Ministry of

Page from the Empire Windrush passenger lists 1948 (The National Archives, BT 26/237) Next month, on the 22nd of June, Britain will celebrate Windrush Day. Windrush Day is new:  the British government instituted it only last year, on the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the demobbed troop ship HMT

The question of who gets a say in how the health service is run was a controversial question from its foundation. Should staff be allowed to help decide the NHS’ priorities? How should patients’ views be treated? What weight should the opinions of local and national government have? What about

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I asked my elderly aunt to tell me what it was like to be a nurse in the NHS 63 years ago; what she wrote is below: My aunt lives in America now (she is now 82 years old and still cares for the elderly!) but she trained and worked
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My first school had a tiny room for the smallest children and I didn't know the naughty ones chose the back, so i sat in the front row. When we were actually, I suppose, 5, we moved into what seemed a huge room with big desks. Pretty well at once
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Today, the NHS continues to be one of the most diverse workforces in the world as well as one of the largest. In 2018, General Practices in England employed 44,847 doctors, 23,756 nurses, and a further 118,946 other workers. The percentage of overseas-qualified GPs employed varied from a low of


In this 70th anniversary week of Britain's National Health Service, we are delighted to share a guest blog from Curator Kristin Hussey of the Royal College of Physicians (which is also celebrating a significant birthday this year: the big 5-0-0!). Happy Birthday, NHS! The museum of modern medicine What would

My partner's earliest medical card, issued in London in the very early 1970s. Looking at it again next to today's medical card, we were struck to see the instruction to BRING the card along to any medical appointment. Pretty interesting, given current debates about whether i.d. should be required when

An auction in Dundee this evening raised £883,000 for charity. Over the summer the Oor Wullie's Bucket Trail had seen 55 statues of the iconic Sunday Post comic strip character on display all over the city (as pictured above). The statues were auctioned off to raise money for the ARCHIE Foundation's charity appeal to support a new

I was born in the UK, in the ‘50s, I am born of the Windrush Generation, my mother and father came to the UK in the late 1950’s. My mother worked in the National Health Service; she started as an SEN (State Enrolled Nurse) and worked her way up to

I currently work at Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) I’m Head of Service for Continuing Health Care, or have been for the last… eight months! My journey with the NHS began in 1979 when I did auxiliary nursing. That’s when I started to think: what do I

I’m a District Nurse Team Leader and I work for Sandwell (and West Birmingham NHS Trust). I have been nursing since 1978 (and that’s before some of you were even born!) - That’s a long time ago, and it actually doesn’t feel like a long time ago, because I’m due


In 2018, inspired by the 70th anniversary of the arrival in Britain of the Empire Windrush, Donna Mighty, Assistant Primary Care Liaison Manager and Chair of the BME Staff Network at the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, commissioned a series of formal portraits of past, present and future NHS

69 years ago this week, the NHS was born. Monday 5 July 1948 was the 'appointed day' on which of whole raft of Labour's postwar social reforms came into force. This included reforms of social security, pensions and, most famously, the establishment of the National Health Service. It was a major

This image accompanied an article in the Guardian which wrote that 'computerisation in the NHS has has [sic] often failed to provide efficiency or savings'; a challenge which is still made today, by some, with regards to the digitisation of patient records.

In the late-1970s, clinicians developed computers which could automatically ask patients for basic information, and provide patients with answers and even with psychotherapy. One such programme was called Mickie (Medical Interviewing Computer in Ermintrude), and was used at the Fulham general practice of Dr Geoffrey Dove (pictured above). The Guardian

Featured in the Encouraging Blood Donation gallery. AIDS as a public health threat first emerged in 1981 and for many years there was considerable public confusion over how the disease spreads. It can be spread through unprotected sex, via contaminated blood products and by sharing needles. This poster aimed at

A guest post by Katy Canales, Acting Curator, V&A Museum of Childhood 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service (NHS). It emerged out of the devastation of Second World War and helped unify the country, offering for the first time much–needed free healthcare for all, as Harry Leslie Smith

One of the most long-standing public policy discussions about the National Health Service revolves around efficiency: its efficiency as a health system and the efficiency of its employees. As early as 1951 officials at the Ministry of Health began assuming the service was over-staffed, circulating a memorandum that year instructing


This cartoon from 1971 marks a change from the more regular depiction of nurses as ministering angels. In fact lots of Giles' cartoons from this period show nurses in combative mood, asserting themselves in interactions with unruly patients. Here one nurse, having been criticised by a patient, shoves him down

Today, as we are staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives, we at the People's History of the NHS thought it might be a great time to think about where the NHS can be seen in our homes, and how we experience it during our normal day-to-day lives. This

As an institution the National Health Service has had a profound social and cultural impact. For everyone living in Britain the establishment of the NHS has helped shape both our experiences of health and our ideas about society. But for some groups, the importance of their relationship with the NHS


From the late 1980s, easy to use at home pregnancy tests became an increasingly common way for mums-to-be to confirm their pregnancy before they reached out to their GP for confirmation. The availability of such tests altered where pregnancy was confirmed and when women chose to access maternity care through

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I do have one particularly strong memory of going to see my GP in my early 20s. I live near a university so my GP surgery is in an area with a high student population - going there is always interesting and somewhat different to other GPs surgeries, I think,
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I was born in 1931, so until I was 17 years old there was no National Health Service. We lived in Peterborough. My family was not poor, we could afford to pay for the Doctor and for medicine. I remember as a young teenager visiting our doctor’s surgery and walking
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I’m Clinical Operations Manager for the Continuing Healthcare team. I had been working as a Continuing HealthCare assessor for last eighteen years and I was recently promoted to the position of Clinical Operations Manager, which was one of the proudest days in my life. I can remember when I started

I’m a Registered Nurse who works in the NHS. My journey through the NHS is one which is very long; I’ve been a (hospital) porter, HCA, band four, healthcare assistant, nursing practitioner. The NHS has done me a great deal of good because without the NHS I wouldn’t have been

I was trained as an enrolled nurse at Dudley Road Hospital (Birmingham) in 1978. I worked for one year at the hospital then joined the Royal Navy and was in the Navy for 14 years. When I left the Navy I went into private nursing, so I haven’t been in

The funniest joke at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 2016, as chosen by a panel of critics for Dave TV channel, was, ‘My dad suggested I register for a donor card, he’s a man after my own heart’ (told by Masai Graham). The first week of September is Organ Donation Week,

As the excitement builds towards celebrating 70 years of the NHS, a hive of activity is emerging to highlight the importance of this national institution. Visibility has become a key watchword in such activities – media representations in documentaries, news and radio pieces, theatre productions and exhibitions, to mention but

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My father Giuseppe Giancola was born in southern Italy in 1921 and died in England in 2001. His family were peasant farmers and my mother was from the same village (Teresa Iacobucci 1913-2002). During the Second World War my father became a prisoner of war after being captured in North
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The history of the NHS is full of a range of emotions, feelings and meanings: including moments of laughter and humour.  Jokes were shared between staff, patients, and families, through conversations, letters, diaries, and drawings, and at bedsides and even in board meetings.  Humour was used to celebrate and to

To launch our new People’s History of the NHS website, we asked you to send us your first memories of the NHS. Since the first of February, you have been responding. Thanks to your memories, and your comments on our objects, galleries and the stories that other members have told

During the 1920s the Fund continued to raise money to support the voluntary hospitals by launching the ‘Combined Hospital Appeal’. The cause was widely promoted at the time to encourage people to give to the hospitals. One such awareness-raising campaign was a poster competition that asked for members of the

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This story relates events in about 1980. I had moved from a job in East Anglia to a new, slightly more senior position in the East Midlands, but was having trouble selling my East Anglian house, so was offered a 'Hospital House' for my wife and I while we sold
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This week we have a guest blog post contributed by Dr Gareth Millward. If you'd like to share your memories of vaccination please comment below or join up as a MyNHS Member. You can read more about the history of  vaccination in our encyclopaedia entry.  Vaccination is a rite of

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In the autumn or winter of 1948 when we had moved to Sutton Bonnington, I was 4 and a half years old and I became ill. I don't remember feeling ill but I do remember the local doctor coming into the front bedroom and poking things down my throat. There
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This blog post was kindly written for us by April Stephenson, who works at the People's History Museum in Manchester. This poster was produced as part of the Labour Party’s 1951 general election campaign. The election was unusual in the fact that it was called by the Labour Party, a

Giles' cartoons often focused on inpatient hospital wards and particularly the interactions between patients and nurses. Despite the vast majority of NHS encounters taking place in GP surgeries, hospitals often dominate imaginary depictions and popular memories of the NHS. Giles' 1963 hospital scene has a lot of interesting features, most

With all the tumult that continues to surround the recent EU Referendum and its results, it seems likely that yet another anniversary of the National Health Service’s first day of operation will pass with little notice this week. It is now 68 years since the National Health Service officially opened

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My father Mr Fernando Buttarazzi an Italian immigrant came to Loughborough, England , in the early 60s with my mother, sister and brother for a better life. All he wanted was the best for his family. Both our parents got a job, our father day shift and our mother night
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A guest post by Katy Canales, Acting Curator, V&A Museum of Childhood The V&A Museum of Childhood’s collection of children’s spectacles spans over 200 years. Their innovative and creative designs incorporate the technological and societal developments during this period, from the start of industrial-scale manufacturing to the founding of the National Health

My name is Veriline Vassell.  I was born in 1930, Springfield, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. My father was a farmer but I answered the call for nurses by the United Kingdom and flew to England in the early 1960s. I rented rooms in a house in Wolverhampton

This is a guest blog kindly written for us by John Beales.  John is a former nurse, and worked in the NHS from 1983 until 2000.  He is now undertaking a Masters degree in History at the University of Bristol. These two records of the presentation of certificates for the

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These two records of the presentation of certificates for the completion of nurse training and badges awarded upon qualification in 1961 and 1987 are separated by more than just time; they subtly reveal the changing nature of nurse training. At the Royal Northern Hospital in London, where my mother trained
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Since starting University in 2014 my mental health has deteriorated. My anxiety and depression are not solely symptoms of being at University, but it is interesting how the university has simultaneously had both a positive and negative influence on my well-being (perhaps a question for another day). I am currently
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Featured in the Encouraging Blood Donation gallery. This poster was designed by Reginald Mount and Eileen Evans for the Ministry of Health. Building on their previous work on blood donation poster creation, this poster continues to use the child as the central visual image. With this poster however, a close-up


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I was 'sent off to be a nurse' because that's what all good girls did, stated my Mother. So in the October of 1963 I boarded a plane in the British Colony of Hong Kong where I had lived for six years, and headed for the UK and the medical
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Marguerite Hepton Hospital was an orthopaedic children hospital in Thorp Arch near Leeds. I spent around 2 and a half years there having first spent 6 months in Leeds Infirmary. Many memories are faint and others still very clear but I know I returned home shortly before the coronation in
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The 5th July 1948 National Health Service was introduced across the whole of the country, one month before I was born, which was very fortunate for my mother and me, as my mother had a very difficult time with my birth, we both almost died and without the NHS we
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I came here as an immigrant (from Jamaica). I am currently working for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust. I’m based at Sandwell accident and emergency department. I started my career at Walsall Nursing and emergency. I’ve been in nursing for twelve years. I am currently a band seven and

Tuesday 14 June 2016 is the twelfth World Blood Donor Day, promoted by the World Health Organization with the tagline: Blood connects us all. So this is a good time to think about the history of blood donations and their place in the history of the NHS. Blood transfusions have a history

Six weeks ago, we asked you to share your first memories of the NHS with us – many stories, tweets and comments later, you have already done so much more. Your stories, and those of your families, have captured the National Health Service’s first moments (thanks especially to the Macbeth

Jennifer Crane In 2013, up to 25,000 people marched in protest against the plans to close down the Accident and Emergency Department and to downgrade the Maternity Ward at Lewisham Hospital, in south-east London.  A key part of this activism – convened by the Save Lewisham Hospital group – was

This is a guest blog kindly provided by Samar Ziadat, of the Lothian Health Services Archive.  In the blog, she describes the holdings of the 'Women's Health collection' in the archives... The material I was most interested in was to do with an Edinburgh-based organisation called ‘Head On’. It was founded

We are delighted to announce our next 'NHS Roadshow'!  It will be on Monday 8th January 2018 in Edinburgh Central Library, from 1-4PM. Come along for a chance to meet our team and to see our lovely NHS objects.  We'll be bringing: Trade union manuals and posters from the 1970s and

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Many Happy Returns is part of a year-long project of working with communities from the east and north east Leeds. Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Space2 has been working with local volunteers since last year collecting stories of life and health both before and after the establishment of
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How insulin saved the life of Alan Nabarro and millions like him Before the discovery of insulin in 1922, a diagnosis of type-1 diabetes was a death sentence.  Alan Nabarro (1914-1977) was one of the first people in the UK whose life was saved by the new treatment, and his

See our virtual museum gallery on this topic The NHS looked different after 1999. The NHS ‘blue lozenge’ logo, the background in blue pantone 300, 2.4 times as wide as high, the letters in Frutiger Bold Italic white font, with further strict rules on its position, size, and surrounding margin,

The understanding of cigarette smoking as addictive and nicotine as the central addictive component is now well known and seemingly straightforward. Years of anti-smoking campaigning, as well as the mass advertising of nicotine replacement products, have together promoted a relatively new disease and addiction narrative around cigarette smoking. Yet, the

My image is of a hand sanitizer dispenser. I picked this image because everytime I go to my doctor or to a hospital they seem to be everywhere. I can't go into a doctors surgery or a hospital without using more hand sanitizer than I could possibly ever need. It's

"I have Bone Cancer, a paint brush & some cameras..." As part of vlogging (video blogging) both his experience of cancer and his artwork, the artist known as PommyT87 posted this video on YouTube on 5 November 2015 with the message: "7 months ago I won Man of the Match

Featured in the Encouraging Blood Donation gallery. Blood is Life shows the work of the National Blood Transfusion Board in the late 1950s. It shows men and women responding to the call to give blood and shows the process of blood donation and blood transfusion. It emphasises the importance of

I used to work with the NHS as an auxiliary nurse when I came to England in 1989. I came over from the Netherlands and then to Leeds. Working in the NHS was my delight, I loved my job and I loved taking care of people. My mom, when she

The author of this blog, Dr Helen Clifford, is a Museums Consultant for the University of Warwick, and has held curatorial, research, and teaching posts across the UK.  She kindly wrote us this piece to reflect on the memories triggered by looking at the childhood glasses of Jenny Crane, one

The 1st of December marks World AIDS Day – a day dedicated to showing support for and solidarity with HIV/AIDS sufferers worldwide. Launched in 1988, World AIDS Day represented the first global health day centred on a single disease and aimed to overcome stigma, raise awareness and mourn those who

For many of us our memories of healthcare begin in childhood. From visits to the GP and vaccinations, to eye tests and dental check-ups, most of us have engaged with the NHS at a young age. Some children spend a considerable amount of time in hospital, engaging in the NHS

Patricia Simpson (r) told interviewer INÈS ELSA DALAL: I was a senior staff nurse at Birmingham City Hospital Trust, I’ve since then retired. I’ve been working in the NHS for the past twenty-two years, thoroughly enjoyed my experience. I basically took over from my mother when she finished on one

I work for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust as a clinical procurement specialist nurse. My role involves clinical engagement with clinicians: when a product is being evaluated or if there’s a product that we may consider changing because it’s more cost-effective for the Trust to procure then we will

The UK’s largest annual gathering of social and cultural historians took place this week. So you won’t be surprised to hear we were in Lancaster for the Social History Society's 40th anniversary conference. On the first day of the conference there were other sessions going on at the same time,

World Social Work Day (Tuesday 15 March in 2016) is a good time to look back to the history of social work - and, for us, its historic relationship with the NHS. It suffers from not being a profession with a history as long as medicine or having the totemic figures of

Over at the Lothian Health Services Archive, Louise has been looking at just what was on the menu for patients in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh over time ... : The archive has much evidence of how patients were fed at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), a national leader

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Was in a hospital ward, about 15 and it was my first over night stay in a hospital. Suddenly, there was a big kerfuffle outside the entrance to the ward, with nurses saying 'Mr S-, Mr S-, you can't go in there! That's a ladies' ward! Mr S-, come back!'.
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It started in March 2000 with a visit to the GP's after coming home from work with an earache. They prescribed some antibiotics which I started on straight away. My daughter was only 7 months old at the time so I decided to sleep in my son's room so as
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By Hannah J. Elizabeth on World AIDS Day, 2020 A couple of months ago, many households in England and Wales received a letter, ostensibly from Boris Johnson, explaining the public health crisis COVID-19 represented. The letter and leaflet told us what we could do to keep ourselves (and the NHS)

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I spent two long sessions in Biddulph first in the nissen huts and then in the new wards. Did we as children realise how lucky we were to be there? I don’t know but I do know we were extremely well looked after by staff who did their utmost to
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During childbirth the baby's heart rate and the mother's contractions are constantly monitored using machines like these. Changes in the foetal heart rate often lead to medical intervention. They have become commonplace features of hospital births in the NHS since the 1970s.

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I was born in 1943 so I was only five years old when I was admitted in 1948 or 1949 with my seven year old brother to what was then Belmont Road Hospital, Liverpool (it had been a 'workhouse' in the old days before becoming a pre-NHS public hospital) I
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Recent weeks have seen campaign buses emblazoned with contested slogans about healthcare touring two countries on opposite sides of the world. In the run-up to Britain's referendum on its European Union membership, the Electoral Commission declared Vote Leave's £350million per week slogan to be ‘misleading’. Certainly some voters decided to vote ‘leave’ in

Three months in to our People’s History of the NHS and we have an 11th Encyclopaedia entry. This is the first from a guest contributor, and we would welcome more of these. If you are interested in contributing something that you think belongs in our People's Encyclopaedia, please do contact

Sheila Dillon of BBC Radio 4's Food Programme explored the food stories of Britons who won't be at home with their families on Christmas Day. It includes an interview with Martin McLachlan, the Imperial NHS Trust Facilities Manager examining how Christmas dinner is provided within the Trust's five NHS hospitals.

An early painting of Nye Bevan, produced in 1945. The building in the background may be Park Hospital in Trafford , Manchester; the first NHS hospital officially opened by Bevan in 1948. But it may also represent Bevan's work on housing reform. The trowel in the background, as such, may

Food has always been a big part of popular ideas about the NHS. The nurse in this cartoon is hungry enough to start stealing the patients' peas because in 1969 the NHS cut her food allowance. As a student nurse living in the hospital her actual pay packet would've been


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This memory was kindly provided by Richard Harding, GP, now retired. Access to medical records. A new Act was introduced in the 1980s allowing patients to see their records. This could be problematic, as, whilst we wanted to be open, some old records were 'problematic', as what would now be
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The National Health Service has long been a rich source of inspiration for media of all sorts, from radio discussion programmes to documentaries to fiction. Prominent examples for the first decade include the regular BBC series, Your Life in Their Hands, which ran from 1958 to 1964, and focused on

I’m a third-year adult nurse student at the University of Birmingham. I’ve actually finished my nursing degree now. I wanted to become a nurse because I think it’s a rewarding career, I also enjoy helping people. I enjoy nursing them back to good health. It’s nice to be part of

Father Christmas, on his way to a fundraising party for the 'Save Tadworth Hospital' campaign on the 15th of December 1982, slipped from the launch taking him to a luxury yacht where the party was held. He was rescued by nurses from the hospital. Tadworth Court Hospital, then part of

I’m the ward manager for ward D26. I work for Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust. I’ve actually been in the NHS for 33 years. I started my nurse training in 1983. My mother inspired me, she came over (from Jamaica) in the fifties. My mother was to do her

This is an image commonly found in NHS waiting rooms and depicts the idea of cost within the NHS. Even though the NHS is a free heath service in theory, the government still want people to be aware of the costs in practice. The idea of cost being thrown at

This chart, produced by the Guardian newspaper to reflect Labour Party critiques of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, highlights the complexity of the structural reforms it demanded. Cluttered with lines and arrows, the diagram presents the new system without any reference to patients, or any place for users'

How long did you work in the NHS? I worked in the NHS for about 40 years. Would you like to share anything about your experience? There’s so much! Tings has change, but, I was happy there... Other than that… care for the patients and nothing else really... I worked

Featured in the Pre-NHS Healthcare Reforms gallery. This film depicts the pioneering work of the Peckham Health Centre, an independent voluntary community initiative first opened in 1926 and moving to this purpose-built centre in 1935.

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As a PE shy fifteen year old the offer of spending one afternoon a week volunteering at a hospital for people with learning disabilities seemed an opportunity too good to miss. Of course in those days the term was handicapped however that held no discrimination value to me at the
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My father, rushed to James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth after a heart attack, spent a considerable time in hospital there while my mother, a non-driver, visited every day from their home in Southwold. After three weeks, during which time it became clear that his heart had been irreparably damaged,
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Back in 1997 I suddenly found myself working at the very hospital in which I had been born some 34 years earlier in 1963. Naturally I hadn't planned things that way, but life has a strange way of playing these little tricks on you. For the handful of years that
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The NHS came about some two years after I was born to a mother who was forced to give birth in a different county than which she was born in. I was conceived around VE night a great celebration for the whole country but for me, it was in Exeter
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This t-shirt, collected by Leeds Hospital Alert, represents a long-standing comparison between the government spend on nuclear weaponry and the NHS. The medical peace movement dates back as far as the foundation of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War (MAPW) in 1951, and the Medical Campaign Against Nuclear


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I have been using the NHS my whole life but my earliest concrete memory is having my BCG jab at secondary school. I remember being given a preliminary jab (possibly called the heaf test) which left a circular mark on your arm. This, and the full jab, were administered by
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The NHS has emerged as one of the lead issues in the debate over Britain’s membership of the European Union, ahead of the upcoming referendum on the 23rd of June. For most people, it sits well behind economics and immigration, but its prominence has been nevertheless striking. In part this

Since we launched our People's History of the NHS website, we have been collecting your first memories of the National Health Service. We have written about some of your stories here,  and here. Those of you who have joined us as members can read even more first memories in the



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I was born in 1953 and my first memories of the NHS were the family Doctor, Dr. Lishman. His surgery was below his flat in Plymouth and he knew all the family history and even carried out dentistry. I didn't really have much contact then until fast forward to 5th
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The National Coal Mining Museum for England is proud to be commemmorating 70 years since the nationalisation of the coalmining industry this year when we will have a special exhibition and themed events throughout 2017. As part of the exhibition we have commissioned illustrator Nick Ellwood to create portraits of
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The 2015 Christmas No.1 single was ‘A Bridge Over You’, a medley of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘A Bridge Over Troubled Water’ and Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’. It was sung by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS hospital trust choir when they were featured on a BBC TV show with celebrity choirmaster Gareth

This drawing was made by a seven year old girl. Depicting her visit to a doctors, she portrays herself on the examining table, and the doctor with his back to her, staring at his computer. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association used this to illustrate concerns


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over the last 20 years I have had to deal with the NHS regularly as my wife was first diagnosed with MS and 3 years ago with Alzhemiers Disease Unfortunately I have seen a drastic fall off in the care and compassion shown by most senior members of staff who
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This poster was part of a broad dental hygiene campaign organised by the Ministry of Health to reduce the rates of childhood dental caries during the 1950s and 1960s. The end of rationing in 1954 had brought about a massive increase in sugar consumption and as a result there was



Produced by the NHS to combat this Swine Flu pandemic of 2009-2010, this poster returns to the immediate postwar focus on the catching germs in a tissue. It follows a similar pattern in both showing and telling how the need to prevent germs from spreading is a matter of individual

In this march to save defend the Whittington Hospital's Accident and Emergency service from closure in 2010, the black cat rather than the NHS logo took centre stage. This indicates the ongoing importance of local identities within the NHS.


A nursing belt buckle, worn before and in the early years of the NHS

The People’s History of the NHS project joined forces with Edinburgh Central Library and the Lothian Health Archives for our first roadshow in Scotland.  The project brought some of our own objects – historic pamphlets, badges, glasses, stickers, surveys – to jog some memories, and sent out a call for

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When I started working for the NHS at the tender age of 17, the concept of a staff canteen was quite a novel one to me. However the canteen in the Wittington Hospital in Highgate London wasn't too dissimilar to the arrangements at school, but with less pushing and shoving,
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The National Health Service, it is often said, is the closest thing the British have to a religion. Yet this is an institution whose very future is now regularly in question. Through this website, and with your help, we aim to build a People’s History of the NHS to better

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This Welsh language online advent calendar offers tips about how to stay healthy at Christmas. You can explore it (and English language translations) here: https://www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/862/page/64268

Created by the Science Museum Brought to Life tool, this interactive 'tour' allows you to explore a Mass Miniature Radiography Unit as it would have looked in the 1940s and 1950s. It enables users to read pop-up information screens about the name of the service, the types of vans used,

These scales were used in the early years of the NHS to weigh babies both in hospital and at home . They were usually accompanied by a strong net holder into which the baby was placed and uses a metal spring balance to take accurate weight measurements. It was simple

This poster was produced by the Central Council for Health Education in the early 1960s and coincided with the Ministry of Health's own dental health campaign. It suggested fruit and salad as healthy snack alternative for children to help keep their teeth strong, while re-asserting the importance of daily brushing.

In media coverage of the 60th anniversary of the NHS in 2008, Aneira Thomas was presented as the first baby to have been born in the NHS. It is interesting that a picture of Aneira as a young girl, rather than as a baby, accompanied these articles. This indicates that

A new BBC television series ‘Call the Midwife’ launched in 2012. With further series in 2013, 2014, and 2015, 'Call the Midwife' has proved hugely successful. It centred on the drama of giving birth in the early days of the NHS, before the days of hospitals becoming central. Its popularity


This model of an MMR Unit created by the Science Museum to illustrate the interior of a mobile van and to show how the x-ray was taken. It displays women operators in white uniforms and a small queue of men wearing shirts to emphasise that there was no need to

Peter Lambda was both a sculptor and a script-writer, working both in theatre and for the Crown Film Unit during the Second World War producing propaganda films for the BBC. he son of a doctor and a psychoanalyst, Lambda trained in medicine before turning to sculpting as his career. Following


Street art flourishes in abandoned urban spaces, and abandoned mental hospitals around the world have proved sites for some unsettling work. The artist JPS typically works with silly puns, although there is a more serious if sardonic feel to his 'NHS CUTZ' in the abandoned Barrow Gurney mental hospital in

Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in the NHS, was interviewed for the Guardian in an article published on 17 September 2017. In the article, Thomas discusses how she felt about being a 'National Health baby' throughout her childhood, and her views on the NHS and its future today. That

Lloyd George envelopes were first used in 1911, when the politician David Lloyd George introduced a national health insurance scheme for low-paid working men. The envelopes are still used today and provide a tangible reminder that there are continuities, as well as changes, in the provision of health and care

I've chosen this specific photo of an NHS waiting room - a connected row of blue chairs on a blue floor - as this is what comes to mind when I think of an NHS waiting room. Michael Rose

This image of the junior doctors strike depicts the anger and emotion felt towards the policies of Jeremy Hunt and the dismantling of the NHS. The emotive language used in the strike against Hunt suggests that it is strongly felt that the NHS should belong to communities rather than politicians.

Abortion/sexual health clinic waiting room - the literature on tables e.g. women’s magazines juxtaposed w/ sexual health leaflets. This article led me towards this idea: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/apr/16/a-letter-to-my-mother-who-doesnt-know-about-my-abortion Hannah Neary

This tinplate image of Nye Bevan is by the artist Dylan Hammond, and was displayed for 3 months in the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff in 2008. The image was surrounded by controversy due to also being displayed alongside another tinplate image by the artist of Margaret Thatcher.

Produced by the health think tank, the King's Fund, this image seeks to humanise the complex reorganisation of the English NHS required by the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. See the King's Fund's video of the production of this organisational chart here.


Featured in the Pre-NHS Healthcare Reforms gallery. In 1913 the Highlands and Islands Medical Service was set up, bringing the most advance health services to the remotest areas of the UK. 7 minutes in to this short film two doctors begin discussing the virtues of the scheme.

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[The following post includes language that some readers may find offensive.] I was at Walsgrave hospital to return a heart monitor I'd had to wear for 48 hours. I wasn't feeling nervous or worried about the tests, but I was grumpy and pissed off as I'd had to get 2
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The NHS has helped to deliver my son safely when I had complications in my pregnancy. The staff at Gloucester Royal were fantastic and I will always remember how supportive they were in those first few scary days when I was a first time mum and recovering from a caesarian.
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I trained as an EN(G) at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow in 1984. My first post after qualifying was in the Plastic surgery unit at Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow. I then went to London. I wanted to work in A&E but needed more experience in medicine. After a year in an acute
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In 2015 the National Childbirth Trust had over 100,000 parents attend their ante and postnatal courses. With the help of over 15,000 volunteers the NCT currently campaign to improve maternity care and give every parent the chance to make informed choices about their child. The NCT has grown significantly in

About the website The People’s History of the NHS allows you to help us research what the NHS means and how it has shaped our lives since its creation. It is part of our bigger academic project investigating the cultural history of the NHS, funded by the Wellcome Trust. Collecting

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ER - earliest (4/5) memory - having inoculations in Dr Madwar's surgery in Sheerness, prior to travelling to The West Cameroons where my father was working. Contracted a fairly aggressive form of tetanus after getting dye from my jeans in an open wound - off my trolley! Later, age 14-15
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In the 1960s, I belonged to a group for local children in Camberwell/Dulwich, South London. Each year we put on a show to raise money to buy toys and equipment for the children's ward at kings College Hospital, South London. We were called the 'purple group of Kingfishers'. The first
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My earliest memory of the NHS was as a four-year-old at Hawthorne House, in Norwich in 1985. I had broken my arm falling down a hill behind the kindergarten, and had to be patched up at Norwich Hospital, at the time based on St Stephen's Road. As I was so
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I was born with club feet or talipes as it is better known these days. Consequently I spent three six week periods at the ages of four, seven and eleven in The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. Unlike today children were kept in hospital a much longer time after
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I remember being very little and wondering why on earth the doctor would give me a whole sugarlump to myself. Delicious. I then took my own children to have their infant vaccinations and feeling a little sorry for them that they had to have needles instead of sweeties. There's nothing
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I was 4 years old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Although I don't remember much from that time, I do have a clear memory of lying on my mother's sofa and the doctor (GP) coming to the house (in Sheffield) after surgery had finished to tell my
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1952. As a 4 year old I was coming up to Scotland for our family summer holiday and developed tonsillitis. My uncle was a house officer at the Southern General Hospital at the time and arranged for me to be admitted in order to have a tonsillectomy. I vivlidy recall
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Featured in the Pre-NHS Healthcare Reforms gallery. Lloyd George introduced National Insurance in 1911, providing cash benefits in times of sickness and access to a doctor chosen from a local panel for what grew to become the majority of working people by the 1930s. Contributions by employees were recognised with

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I am lucky enough to be a healthy individual who has had very limited contact with then NHS. The only times that I have really experienced the NHS (been taken into a NHS hospital) have been through sporting injuries. The most recent of these injuries came in January 2016 where
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Hospitals, rather than GP surgeries or community care, are often the focus of NHS-related campaigning. This placard again presents the idea of hospitals as 'ours', belonging to the community or society.

Fundraising continued into the 1930s. This pamphlet is a photocopy of the programme for the `Miniature Hospital' exhibition in 1933. The King’s Fund Propaganda Committee commissioned a scale model of a modern hospital, including a children’s ward, an operating theatre and a working lift. The Committee hoped that the model

Future hospital: caring for medical patients: A report from the Future Hospital Commission to the Royal College of Physicians, published September 2013 The Future Hospital Commission (FHC), chaired by Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, was established by the Royal College of Physicians in 2012 to address growing concerns about the standards of care

For

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This story takes place in about 1975, when I was still somewhat naive in the ways of the world, and my knowledge of female anatomy wasn't much beyond what was found in dark corners and the (rather tame) magazines of the day! As laboratory staff our duties included taking blood
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Dr Richard Harding is a retired GP who has kindly shared with us some of his memories of working in the NHS, each of which you can see by clicking the links below. I was a GP in the north of England from 1975-97. Before that I was a junior
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I think we have increasingly informed ourselves over the years about the NHS services, structures, managers and policies to find the most effective methods for targeting our campaigning efforts. Because protesting on the streets is increasingly "managed" by the police and media, and we have become older and less able
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I started wearing glasses when I was 7, which seems to have been quite unusually young back in 1962 (nobody looked out for short-sightedness in children back then, it took ages to convince people I couldn't see the blackboard in school!). But my main memory is the stigma attached to
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This 1958 report, depicted noise as a thoroughly modern malaise: 'that the world is growing noisier is obvious to us all; towns, roads, buildings and even hospitals are all noisier than ever before’. In the surveys used for the report, patients often cited hospital equipment as a cause of noise


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This memory was kindly provided by Richard Harding, GP, now retired. GP research. Remaining curious throughout my career, I was constantly wondering 'what if..' And 'why?' and 'are we doing as well as we can?' I attended a meeting of the GP Research Club in the mid-80s, and then was
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When I was little I was a thin little girl with pigtails, who loved ballet, and enjoyed school but I had lots of coughs and colds. This was in spite of the daily cod liver oil medicine we had, which I think came with the ration books I just remember
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This memory was kindly provided by Richard Harding, GP, now retired. As very inexperienced housemen, we used to have to cover in Casualty at weekends (that might be why weekend death rates used to be higher). I recall in Bath in 1969, where the Casualty was in some prefabs at
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As I have aged (I am now 85) I have developed a number of medical problems, and have had quite a lot of personal experience of NHS care. I have found staff on the “lower rungs” kind, supportive and conscientious. The people who empty the commode, the District Nurses who
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In the 1980s, when Leeds Hospital Alert was founded, many campaign groups became concerned by the privatisation of NHS services including cleaning and catering. This critique continues today, and underpins the work of the Keep Our NHS Public movement.

Dr Gareth Millward Invacar was the trade name of a number of “invalid carriages” built for the government during the first thirty years or so of the NHS. Essentially adapted tricycles with a rudimentary bodywork, they provided independent transport for disabled people. The founder of Invacar, Bert Greeves, had worked

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I left Ireland at 16 to work in St. Josephs Hospice In Hackney. It was of the first Hospices in operation and run by The Sisters of Charity an order of catholic nuns. Which was of course one of the reasons I was there along with a lot of other
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Once again part of the second iteration of the wartime 'Coughs and Sneezes Spread Disease' campaign, this poster depicts a handkerchief blown away by a sneeze. It emphasises the need to catch any cough or sneeze so that germs are trapped and cannot be passed on.

Voters have become used to - and cynical of - party political claims about the NHS. Here, a defaced Labour Party billboard from 2005 illustrates voter disillusionment.

The growing popularity of street art has led to the use of graffiti for hospital fundraising purposes. The artist Stik's iconic work is associated with areas in East London where he used to sleep rough, and he has auctioned pieces of his work to raise funds for local causes. In

Infant feeding in Hospital Nursery (Image via https://www.hiddenlives.org.uk/blog/2013).

This poster supports fluoridation of water as a public health measure to prevent tooth ache, extractions and fillings. It was produced by the Health Education Council in the 1970s. It was part of a wider debate over fluoridation and concerns about mass medication within British public health.

This poster was produced by the Health Education Authority in 1992. It explained the role consumption of sweets and sugar play in tooth decay. It emphasised that half of all children under the age of 5 had evidence of tooth decay.

This poster was also produced as part of a 1992 dental health campaign by the Health Education Authority. This poster focused on the sugar content of fizzy drinks and their impact on tooth decay. The combination of the can ring and an extracted tooth aimed to visually connect the impact

Photograph of a ward mealtime from the Ashford Hospital Archive, c. 1960s (Image rights: https://www.johnathersuch.com/ASHFORD_HOSP/pictures.htm)

Featured in the Pre-NHS Healthcare Reforms gallery. The wartime Emergency Medical Service introduced a new level of regional organisation.

Change for Life Poster (Available in print and via https://www.nhs.uk/change4life).

Publicity logo for this campaigning group established in 2012, that seeks to improve hospital food standards across the NHS as well as combatting food waste. (Logo from https://www.sustainweb.org/hospitalfood/)

This poster was produced by The Stroke Association and used bright visual imagery to encourage take-up of mass miniature X-Ray programmes in the immediate postwar years. Its central visual image, comprised of mother goose and her three goslings, contributes to a wider postwar preoccupation within health education that used images

Health Education Authority Poster aimed at reducing workplace smoking, c. 1987 (Science Museum, https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=93452)

Labour's posters for the 1950 General Election drew attention to the Party's role in establishing the NHS, and thus improving the health of women, children and the elderly, who had not been covered by pre-war state provision.

In the long (indeed, prolonged so that servicemen overseas could cast their postal ballots) election of 1945, the welfare of the British public was a key issue. While the Conservatives sought to capitalise on the achievements of wartime leader Winston Churchill, both Labour and the Liberal parties presented visions of

This was film was created by the Central Office of Information and outlines how tuberculosis can be diagnosed and the types of treatments available. The film follows two sisters as they are examined for tuberculosis, with one sister diagnosed with the disease and sent to a sanatorium for treatment. The

Having learned the lessons of the narrowly lost 1950 general election, the Conservatives included their own proprietary claims to the NHS in 1951 election leaflets. The text here reads, in part, 'The National Health Service was planned and approved by the Coalition Government under Mr Churchill during the war. The

Ahead of the 2015 general election, Tony Davis commissioned a pro-NHS, anti-Tory mural for the side of his house. In a nod to Margaret Thatcher's reassurance that the NHS was 'safe in our hands', it asks if it is safe in those of Prime Minister David Cameron. Davis was instructed

This famous poster (revived as recently as the 2015 General Election, when the Labour Party Shop re-fashioned it as a tea towel - which immediately sold out) demonstrates the party's sense that the NHS was already an popular emblem of post-war values, and a natural vote-winner. While the party lost

After the turbulence and medical activism of the 1970s, the Conservatives felt they were well-positioned to challenge Labour Party claims about the NHS in the 1978/9 general election.

Choose Your Doctor (1948) film from the Ministry of Information (British Pathe, hosted by youtube).


Health Education Council Poster designed by Saatchi and Saatchi, c. late 1970s (Science Museum,https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=93440 )

The 1942 Beveridge Report (named after its author, Liberal economist William Beveridge) famously argued for state intervention to do away with the 'Five Giants': squalor, ignorance, want, idleness, and disease. Received with considerable popular acclaim, the Report was also -- as cartoonist Charles Leslie Illingworth depicts here -- political dynamite.

by Feliks Topolski, charcoal, circa 1954

'Graffiti walls', such as this one from Thurrock in Essex, have been one way in which the NHS has sought to bring very public feedback and discussion into the spaces used by staff and patients. There is often a tendency for counter cultures to be co-opted, but the official use


Signifies the staff, doctors and administrative staff of the NHS. These people are the face of the NHS. Shared uniform and identity. ID bagde makes it less personal- more formal. Dan Parker, Rhiannon Hall

A more recent portrait of Nye Bevan from 1998, painted 50 years after the introduction of the NHS.

This oil on board painting was produced in 1942, six years before the establishment of the NHS. The realist mode of depiction, sombre colours used and inclusion of a glass of beer help portray Bevan as an 'everyday' man of the people. The image was probably taken from a newspaper

I thought of Jeremy Hunt because of my personal interest in following politics. I believe it is interesting how the political discourse relates to people's individual experiences/ beliefs regarding the NHS i.e If labour had argued for the need to restructure mental health care or enforced a pay cap how

This particular image of the generic blue curtain found across all hospitals within the UK was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of 'the NHS'. Any patient who has spent time in one of these perfectly aligned beds will not only remember its striking colour, but

This is a vinyl stacking chair which is used in NHS waiting rooms. This object was an everyday symbol of the NHS for us, as it representative of a situation that most, if not all, members of the British public have experienced – sitting in an NHS waiting room for

Diagram of the post-war health services as proposed by Conservative Minster for Health Henry Willink's White Paper of 1944, poduced by the Medical Practitioner's Union. Courtesy, Socialist Health Association. See the MPU's scathing critique here.

I’m fifty-two and I’ve worked in the NHS now for thirty-four years. I had specialised in cardio-thoracic nursing, worked across the country predominantly in London, and then the second half of my career in Birmingham, moving into management. I have no regrets in my career choice as a nurse. I

Central Council for Health Education Anti-Smoking Poster c. 1957 (Science Museum, https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=93442)

Notice from Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, England, 1960s (Science Museum, https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=5061)

Central Council for Health Education Poster aimed at discouraging smoking around children c. 1960s (Science Museum, https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=93446)

The Department of Health for Scotland created this organisational chart for public consumption in 1948, as a way to help familiarise people with their new NHS.

Anti-Smoking poster designed by graphic designer Reginald Mount for the Central Office of Information, 1965-1970 (Science Museum, https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=93445)

Controversial NHS Smoke Free Poster, c.2011(Image via www.hp.somerset.nhs.uk)

Health warnings were first introduced in 1971 and from 2008 pictorial warnings have been included. (Generic packaging from https://www.stopsmokingnhs.co.uk/blog)

Health Education Council Anti-Smoking Poster, 1971-1975. (Science Museum, https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/objects/display.aspx?id=93448)

Voters are no more friendly to Conservative Party claims, as the graffiti on this 2010 billboard suggests.

The lukewarm Conservative response to Beveridge's groundbreaking report triggered anger among many voters, who felt they had already paid - through wartime sacrifices - for a Welfare State, including, as this 1945 Philip Zec cartoon illustrates, 'proper medical attention'. The cartoon, originally published in the left-leaning Daily Mirror newspaper, was

Would you say 'Thank you' to NHS staff or be especially grateful for the health services over Christmas? We are very interested in gift giving and gratitude in the NHS. You can read our blog and try our survey here: https://peopleshistorynhs.org/survey-gift-giving-in-the-nhs/ ‎

Labour Party Political Poster in circulation from 1918, the first election in which women (at least those over the age of 30) were able to vote. Both parties strongly targeted these new voters -- often specifically as 'mothers' -- and both sought to attract them through making promises to improve

This image, taken at Savernake Hospital, Wiltshire in 1967, reflects a long tradition of Christmas carol singing on hospital wards.

The Jewish festival of Hanukkah, which often falls close to Christmas, attracts less media attention. But it too is celebrated in the NHS and in private health and social care establishments with Jewish users and clients. Here, a school girl is pictured with the Hanukkah sculpture ( a Chanukiah) she

Christmas celebrations are intimately linked with food -- but can hospitals provide a traditional Christmas dinner that satisfies patients, nutritionists and managers alike?

In 2013, comedian Mark Thomas, pictured here, had the idea of a ‘Born in the NHS’ slogan to accompany tee shirts and other goods produced by the social enterprise Made by Young People. We are interested in how and when being born in the NHS emerged as a symbol of

Matron, played by Hattie Jacques, stands in front of ‘Finisham’ Maternity Hospital at the opening of Carry on Matron (1972). Interior shooting took place at Pinewood Studios. Heatherwood Hospital in Berkshire provided the location for the exterior shots of Finisham. Founded in 1922, Heatherwood was taken over by the NHS

This e-card was created by an NHS clinical commissioning group to communicate with its service users at Christmas time.

This lovely 1958 photo of Christmas carol singing at Savernake Hospital highlights the long-standing diversity of NHS workers.

Labour Party Political Poster c. 1910s-1930s Transcription: "Health. The record of our health bespeaks the record of bad housing and insufficient food, light, air, sleep, and recreation, that reflects in the most dreadful way upon our life as a nation."--A.C. Geddes. Vote for Haywood and give Labour a chance!"

This 2016 campaign image, from NHS Blood and Transplant, reflects a long tradition of encouraging blood and organ donation as a 'gift' well-suited to a season of giving. Have you given a gift -- or received one -- in the NHS? Please take our gift-giving survey here!

A present day GP surgery in Derbyshire, filmed for ‘The Real Peak Practice television series, aired on BBC One in July 2015. For clips see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02xny8x.

Support for the NHS was, at least rhetorically, a matter of party political consensus in the 1950s and 1960s - though in practice funding and provision changed significantly from the initial promises of the 1940s.

Ultrasound is a form of diagnostic image technology routinely used to scan images of the foetus within the womb to monitor the growth and development of the baby. It has been routinely used in hospitals as a standard component of maternity care since the 1970s.

Epidurals have become increasingly common forms of pain relief during labour. They were made available for this purpose from the 1960s and today NHS maternity wards offer epidurals to women routinely to help relieve the pain of contractions.

The first gas and air machine used as a form of pain relief in labour was developed in 1935. They grew in popularity after the Second World War, and in particular during the first two decades of the NHS. They allow mothers to self-administer the mixture of nitrous oxide and


Publicity poster for Carry on Matron (1972) set in Finisham Maternity Hospital. This was the 23rd film in the Carry On franchise and the fourth with a medical setting. Though the franchise was on the wane by the 1970s, these remained highly popular films. The film offers us a picture

The Labour party launched this website in 2014. The calculation was that 97% of those born in Britain since 1948 had been delivered by the NHS. This indicates the relatively minor role of private health care across the period, though this remained the choice of many of the wealthy and

My Father arrived in England from Kingston, Jamaica in 1953 and he sent for my Mother who arrived in 1954. They settled in Wolverhampton. I came to England in July 1967. As a child growing up I had always wanted to be a Nurse. I started at Bilston College in

My Dad arrived from Jamaica in 1955 and my mother joined him in 1957. Dad was a skilled tailor in Jamaica, but found work in factories in England. My mother worked at a paper press. Me and my two sisters, Olga & Dorothy joined my parents in December 1966. Dad

Produced rapidly by Public Health England for the NHS, this poster forms a part of a larger corpus of posters, available digitally, which implore the public to stay at home for all but essential reasons. Its central message of 'Stay at home, Save Lives' was an important mantra repeated by

Does the NHS logo serve its purpose? Leading graphic designer Andy Lawrence recently explored the possibility of a rebranding involving using of multi-coloured hexagons. He suggested that the reintroduction of the full name of the National Health Service could have more positive connotations. The use of multiple colours and of

The Labour Party had struggled to find an easy symbol to represent the NHS when they were critiquing spending in the 1980s. The adoption of a logo in the 1990s provided a symbol not just for the branding of the service itself but for campaigners critiquing changes to and under-spending

The NHS logo has gained not just national but international recognition. In April 2015 Islamic State released a video on social media that appears to have borrowed heavily from the NHS branding in promoting their own health service. Such brand recognition for the NHS and its logo has encouraged the

Continuing the health themes of the 1951 election, this 1955 General Election poster for the British Conservative Party offers 'More for the young, the old, the sick. Vote Conservative'.

Although the blue lozenge symbol became ever-present in England's NHS, differences throughout the period in Northern Ireland and the process of devolution in Wales and in Scotland saw the emergence of distinctive services with their own logos, and their own strict guidelines on the use of this branding.

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This memory was kindly provided by Richard Harding, GP, now retired. Getting the wrong end of the stick. Something else that patients are brilliant at. I spent ages with a mother who was concerned about her little girl's tummy pains. I thought they were due to muscular spasms of the
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The branding of the NHS in the 1990s ran alongside the evolution of branding for the major private insurer of medicine, BUPA (the British United Provident Association). The two institutions have fascinatingly parallel histories. In fact BUPA was founded in 1947, a year before the opening of the NHS. The

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This memory was kindly provided by Richard Harding, GP, now retired. Body language. This is all the rage now, but there was a time when it was an unconscious behaviour we only appreciated subliminally. I used to take medical students to sit in, with patients' consent. One student, a very
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I was 14 in 1970 when I had a detached retina. I was only 4 weeks away from going blind in one eye. The NHS and the relatively new laser technique restuck my retina and gave me 80% vision back. I can still remember how delicious the egg sandwiches I
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How times have changed since the early days of the NHS. Going through some of my late mothers' effects I came across the admission card for visiting that was issued to parents. This was a great improvement on the visiting hours when I was first admitted to that hospital which
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I think that my earliest NHS memory is from primary school, when I was possibly 7 or 8. I remember that we had some kind of vaccinations, so were all queuing up outside the school hall for some time, and then one boy for the remainder of the day was
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This artwork is titled ‘Depersonalisation in medicine (“(Mis)recognition”). It was produced by a project called 'Patient as Paper’, between an artist, Emma Barnard, and a clinical consultant and ear-nose-throat surgeon, Mike Papesch, in 2013. The artwork displays a concern that record-keeping reduces a patient to a collection of signs and

Graffiti in the 'bear pit' underpass in the centre of Bristol used the rallying cry of the NHS in opposition to the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.


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I love the NHS because it treated and cared for my mum, when she had tuberculosis (TB) in her early 20's. It was a life changer for my mum, who stayed in a number of TB sanatoriums across the country for many years and had to survive with reduced lung
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Sparked by our shared history of having trained as nurses decades apart, and by my mothers plan to attend a reunion at her training hospital, she brought out some of her photographs recently. The attached photograph, taken in 1958 or 1959 at the Royal Northern Hospital in London, shows my
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Featured in the Encouraging Blood Donation gallery. This poster was part of a targeted blood donation drive in Birmingham. It represents an important shift towards locally-targeted blood donation services to augment more infrequent national campaigns. The statistic that 'every 3 seconds someone needs blood' is a succinct and clear way

In 1967, this report, carried out by a King's Fund Working Party, looked at hospital bedsteads with a view to improving their design. The resulting specification, or ‘The King’s Fund bed’, produced a standardised design which was more comfortable for patients and easier for nurses to use. The new design

By 1989, 10 years after the ‘Art in Hospital’ scheme was established, the Fund had supported more than 40 projects – for a number of hospitals including Charing Cross, the Royal London, St George’s, St Stephen’s, The Royal Free and St Thomas’s – with around £20,000 a year invested in



This poster, from Labour's 2015 national election campaign, consciously reminds readers of earlier Conservative posters, including the well-remembered 'Labour isn't working' poster of the first Thatcher campaign, but also the less familiar but even more similar 'Britain isn't getting better' poster of the same period. Interestingly, there is no evidence

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I spent from September 1952 until May 1953 in a hospital ward for boys most of whom were suffering front the effects of polio or TB. Regardless of the weather, the big french windows running down the side of the ward were open day and night all year round. Fresh
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I was due to be born at the end of June 1948. However I came on 25th June, a week before my due date. Had I been born a week after my due date, it would have been after the introduction of the NHS on 5 July 1948. This meant
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People’s History of the NHS Website: Project Information Sheet for Website Visitors The People's History of the NHS is part of a larger project exploring the Cultural History of the NHS, directed by Roberta Bivins and Mathew Thomson at the University of Warwick. We want to understand the role of the NHS in


The NHS logo would come to adorn an increasing range of signs and objects. We are interested in how such branding was experienced by staff and patients. We are also keen to establish the extent to which this was a new phenomenon. Preliminary analysis of earlier images of NHS settings



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This would have been in the very early 1970s when I was very new to the NHS, and very, very green. I was studying to become was was then called a Laboratory Technician in a big London hospital. I was asked to collect a number of tissue samples from a
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This campaign banner asks whether privatisation in the NHS will in fact reverse care towards an era in which leeches were a popular form of treatment. Ideas about the history of the NHS, and particular the institution's 'founding principles', regularly appear in contemporary campaigning.

As part of the Radicals Assemble: After Hours season at the People's History Museum in Manchester, members of our team and speakers from Keep our NHS Public Greater Manchester gathered together to voice their thoughts, showcase their research and enter into lively discussion with the public, working under the banner of


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Sore throats, painfull ears! “ We’ll have them out mother.” Yes Doctor. Several small children wheeled on a green covered trolley into an a room. Strangers! Big copper coloured cylinder shining in the corner. Strong lights. A man carries me into a bright room and lays me on a table.
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This mask was used by Doctors in the early years of the NHS. It is one part of a larger anaesthesia kit used for house calls to patients. A cloth rag would be placed over the metal wire, designed to keep the ether, which could cause irritation, away from a

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The story is about myself . I was diagnosed with ASD high Performing Asperger's last year aged 70 and it tells the story of someone struggling with Undiagnosed Autism all through life being accidently shot in 1956 aged 10 and having to go in a men's ward and losing sight
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In 1687 the Royal College of Physicians announced that its members would give free treatment to paupers and proposed the building of a public dispensary based at the College, where the poor could receive free medicines. This angered the Royal Society of Apothecaries who were angered by what they saw

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Kindly provided by Hannah Basson, "This talk was aired on US radio when my father was there undertaking research with other medical academics. He gave me the talk, along with many other papers, in 2010 – my introductory year to NHS campaigning. In 2010 I learned I was to be
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Conservative Party Election Poster, 1929 The 1929 General Election, also known as the 'Flapper Election' was the first in which women were allowed to vote on equal terms as men -- that is, all men and women over the age of 21 were enfranchised. As in 1918, this prompted both

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My Dad had two sessions in NHS hospital in the 50's with Gastric ulcers bleeding and at that time there was no cure by medication. He survived to live to 79.At the age of 30 in 1960 I returned home from a somewhat riotous Ski-ing holiday and then straight off
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The current spat between junior doctors and the government about 7-day cover in hospitals could equally apply to general practice. A frail elderly friend who died recently had seen his GP a week earlier. The GP had diagnosed severe bronchitis and remarked that he should have been brought in sooner,
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The photograph of the children's ward is very evocative for me. In 1952 at the age of seven I was admitted to Southmead Hospital to have my tonsils removed and some procedure on my sinuses, which was never explained to me. The day in hospital before the operation was terrifying
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My housemate had to spent a night this week in A&E following a burn to her hand. When I asked her if she had waited long, she replied that whilst she waited two hours for a five-minute consultation with a Doctor, the wait was improved by watching a group of
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This time last year my sister collapsed with an aneurism and was admitted to the University Hospital Coventry. The staff were wonderful, the equipment seemed brand new and she received the very best attention. They tried to save her when others might have given up and she died gently with
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This organisational chart, sketched by a consultant while explaining the new post-2012 NHS to the People's History team, represents one practitioner's view of the complicated flows of power and responsibility in the health services.


This image, created by the Industrial Health Education Society in 1924, shows the complex patchwork of health provision in relation to the Ministry of Health before the NHS. See the whole image and its text at the Modern Records Centre


Over the summer of 2016, Oor Wullie's Bucket Trail saw 55 statues of the iconic Sunday Post comic strip character on display all over Dundee. In September, the statues were auctioned off to raise money for the ARCHIE Foundation’s charity appeal to support a new theatre suite at the Tayside


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I took my partner to a Minor Injuries Unit (situated in an A+E) yesterday evening to have his ankle checked, which he had injured playing football on Saturday. He'd previously been wandering about on borrowed crutches, hoping it healed, but since the ankle was still massive and purple decided to
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In 1986, an article in the Journal of the Royal College of GPs wrote that: 'It has been said that the key to good general practice is good record keeping'. With this in mind, the article's authors proposed that the above card was used to record and store all patients'



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