People's History of the NHS


The NHS at 70: Seeing and ‘Selling’ Britain’s National Health Service since 1948

July 6, 2018
The National Archives, Kew (London)


July marks the 70th birthday of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). In Britain, the NHS was widely (though not universally) welcomed, and swiftly became a symbol of national values and commitments. However, this positive view of ‘state medicine’ wasn’t shared by American commentators. As a result, the NHS became a highly politicised and controversial topic in US healthcare debates.

This talk will explore US representations of the NHS, and British response to them, asking why American visions of a British social institution provoked such strong reactions at home.


On 5 July 1948, Britain’s new National Health Service treated its first patients. Now perhaps the country’s most treasured institution, the creation of the NHS was not an easy process.

There will be a document display 23 July–28 December in the first floor reading room, highlighting records related to the NHS and the state’s attempts to publicise and explain the new service to the country.

For more details and tickets, follow this link

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