People's History of the NHS

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  • 21
  • DEC

News for the new year: welcome, 2020!

by Roberta Bivins

As the People’s History of the NHS project enters its final year, we are working on a series of exciting new questions! In 2018, we commissioned the Mass Observation project to ask its contributors what the NHS meant to them, and to talk about their memories of the Service and feelings towards it over the years. Working with Mathew Thomson, our new team member Dr Andrew Burchell will be exploring the exciting responses, and looking at them in relation to wider questions about health and well-being in Great Britain, as documented by the contributors and diarists of the Mass Observation archives. Watch this space for his exciting results!

We will also be looking at the relationship between the NHS and specific patient groups and communities, particularly those who have been marginalised, or who have taken action to push the NHS to address their needs more effectively. We’re especially interested in getting a picture of health activism beyond London and Westminster — so we’ll be calling for your stories, questions and personal objects and encounters in 2020. If you live in Birmingham, keep an eye peeled for upcoming events in the spring!

As well as these new projects,we are excited to be seeing lots of publications coming out from the work we have all done together with you in the last five years. The great news is that most of this work will be available to all FOR FREE, thanks to our funder, the Wellcome Trust. If you are interested in how we have used your stories and memories, just follow the links below for some FANTASTIC work from Dr Jenny Crane and Dr Jack Saunders.

If you have been an NHS activist, you’ll love Jenny’s new article on NHS Activism in the ‘new times’ of the 1980s, which you can access here: https://doi.org/10.1080/13619462.2018.1525299 (just cut and paste the link into your browser search bar).

And if you have come to this page because you are interested in NHS policy, try this article out for size: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.endeavour.2018.01.001 (just cut and paste the link into your browser search bar) It is Jenny’s take on why the history of public consultation matters for health policy makers, especially in this era of devolution and other major changes in the NHS:

Neither last nor least, Jenny has also written a really interesting and innovative article talking about HOW we worked with you all to uncover and share the history of activism — so useful if your group wants to preserve its own history. This article, titled ‘The NHS … should not be condemned to the history books’: Public Engagement as a Source in Social Histories of Medicine’ will come out soon, so watch this space!

For all of you who have been encouraging us to study the NHS as a workplace — obviously an important and highly relevant topic today, perhaps more than ever! — and who have been working closely to help us ensure a well-rounded and inclusive picture of life working in the NHS, we are super-excited that you can now read Jack Saunders’ article on emotions and social practices in the changing and diversifying NHS workforce: https://doi.org/10.1093/hwj/dbz023 (just cut and paste the link into your browser search bar).

And finally, if you have been thinking about the ‘big’ questions in NHS funding and population health — or are perhaps planning to drink less, eat a bit healthier, or lose a bit of weight in the new year, our other PI, Roberta Bivins is on the very same wave length! Have a peek at her article looking at how British attitudes and responses to increasing adult and child body weight emerged and changed in the age of the NHS: ‘Weighing on Us All: Quantification and Cultural Response to Obesity in NHS Britain’, right here: https://doi.org/10.1177/0073275319842965 (just cut and paste the link into your browser search bar)

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