Last week the NHS History team visited the People’s History Museum in Manchester, as you can see the photos below. We spent the afternoon running a drop-in NHS Roadshow where people came to share their memories and objects and to ask us questions, before one of the museum’s Radicals Assemble evenings saw three of our researchers give short talks as well as two campaigners from Keep Our NHS Public.
We heard from a former health visitor about her training and career in the NHS and outside of it, even seeing her textbook from the late 1960s and the nurse’s belt buckle passed down to her from her aunt who would have been wearing it when the NHS started in 1948. We met in person Dr Richard Harding, a GP who has provided a number of memories for the members section of this website. We talked to locals about the changing face of the city’s hospitals and the history of the National Health Service, prompting a wonderful piece of unsolicited feedback: “I feel right clever now.”
Our evening session had the theme of A National Religion? Activism, Public Opinion and the NHS. Jane Hand chaired proceedings and said a little about our project. Jack Saunders spoke about the meanings of the NHS to its workers. Jenny Crane drew our attention to the complex relationship between the local and the national in pro-NHS campaigning. Then I talked us through the various ways graffiti has come to be used to campaign and even raise funds for the NHS. After this we heard from a mix of campaigners, academics, junior doctors and interested others about the meanings the NHS had for them.
We’re planning further NHS Roadshows at St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff and the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby. If you would like to see us visit your part of the country, let us know in the comment box below or by contacting us.