People's History of the NHS


History and the NHS Workshop, Society for Social Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting

September 15, 2016
Exhibition Centre, University of York

What is role of history in researching and understanding the British National Health Service (NHS), its practices, techniques, people and wider social meaning? This workshop invites scholars and practitioners from disciplines as diverse as medicine, epidemiology, management and economics, with an interest in the NHS and its current challenges, to take part in thematic discussions around the merits of historical approaches to studying the NHS.

Historical approaches to health care and public health, drawing on tools from cultural studies, political science, and organisation studies, do not always reach the practitioners and policy makers who might find them useful. This workshop at the Society for Social Medicine’s Annual Scientific Meeting will bridge that gap, drawing on the research of academics from three universities (Liverpool, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Warwick Universities) all exploring different aspects of the history of the NHS. Together, panelists and participants will:

  1. Uncover the impacts and outcomes of historical precedents in relation to the current events, e.g. the junior doctors pay dispute, cost containments, reimbursement policies; NHS staffing, etc.;
  2. Learn from past events to inform current and future reforms: e.g. ‘Devo Manc’ and the local design and delivery of health services, recruitment in the NHS and the question of non-British workers, elderly care.

Participants will be able to engage with these wide-ranging questions, explore their origins, and contribute their own ‘stories’ of the NHS via a the ‘People’s History of the NHS website.

For full details, see:


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